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Modern Science 
and Anarchism 


Translated from the Russian Original by 



The Social Science Club of Philadelphia 

Price, Twenty-Five Cents 


3 1924 100 531 742 

A, . \ '? Z \ 'T-° , i 

Translator's ' Foreword 

This translation being submitted in manuscript 
to the author for approval and criticism, he has re- 
turned it with a few brief additions and a number of 
suggestions. All of the former, of course, are em- 
bodied in the text ; but of many of the latter I could 
not avail myself. Instead, before sending the trans- 
lation to press, I have labored carefully to improve 
it by making numerous verbal changes calculated to 
secure greater lucidity and a more correct idiom. 
In its present form, therefore, the translation is 
technically unlike that the author has returned to 
me. Under these circumstances, to have adhered 
to my intention of displaying ' ' Revised by the 
Author" on the title-page might prove somewhat 
misleading. This intention was therefore abandoned. 
Yet, the author's helpful suggestions and friendly 
encouragement must be freely acknowledged. It is 
to do this, and at the same time to absolve him from 
all responsibility for the translation as it now appears 
in print, that I make this explanation. 

D. A. M. 


I. Two fundamental tendencies in Society : the popular 
and the governmental. — The Kinship of Anarchism 
and the Popular-creative Tendency. ... 5 

II. The Intellectual Movement of the XVIII century ; its 
fundamental traits : the investigation of all phenomena 
by the scientific method.. — The Stagnation of Thought 
at the Beginning of the XIX century. — The Awaken- 
ing of Socialism : its influence upon the development 
of science. — The Fifties. .11 

III. Auguste Comte's Attempt to build up a Synthetic 
Philosophy. — The causes of his failure : the religious 
explanation of the moral sense in man 25 

IV. The Flowering of the Exact Sciences in 1856-62. — 
The Development of the . Mechanical World-Concep- 
tion, embracing the Development of Human Ideas and 
Institutions. — A Theory of Evolution. 30 

V. The Possibility of a New Synthetic Philosophy. — 
Herbert Spencer's attempt : why it failed. — The 
Method not sustained. — A False Conception of "The 

Struggle for Existence. " . . .39 

VI. The Causes of this Mistake. — The Teaching of the 
Church : " the World is steeped in Sin." — The Govern- 
ment's inculcation of the same view of " Man's Radical 
Perversity." — The Views of Modern Anthropology 
upon this subject. — The Developmentof forms of Life by 
the "Masses," and the Law. — Its Two-fold Character. 45 
VII. The Place of Anarchism in Science. — Its Endeavor to 
Formulate a Synthetic Conception of the World. — Its 

Object 53 

VIII. Its origin. — How Its Ideal is Developed by the 

Natural-Scientific Method 59 

IX. A Brief Summary of the Conclusions Reached by 
Anarchism: Law. — Morality. — Economic Ideas. — 

The Government 63 

X. Continuation : — Methods of Action. — The Understand- 
ing of Revolutions and their B rth. — The Creative 
Ingenuity of the People. — Conclusion 77 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 

Modern Science and Anarchism. 


Anarchism, like Socialism in general, and 
like every other social movement, has not, of 
course, developed out of science or out of some 
philosophical school. The social sciences are 
still very far removed from the time when they 
shall be as exact as are physics and chemistry. 
Even in meteorology we cannot yet predict the 
weather a month, or even one week, in advance. 
It would be unreasonable, therefore, to expect 
of the young social sciences, which are con- 
cerned with phenomena much more complex 
than winds and rain, that they should foretell 
social events with any approach to certainty. 
Besides, it must not be forgotten that men of sci- 
ence, too, are but human, and that most of them 
either belong by descent to the possessing 
classes, and are steeped in the prejudices of 
their class, or else are in the actual service of 
the government. Not out of the universities, 
therefore, does Anarchism come. 

As Socialism in general, Anarchism was born 
among the people ; and it will continue to be full 
of life and creative power only as long as it re- 
mains a thing of the people. 

At all times two tendencies were continually 
at war in human society. On the one hand, 
the masses were developing, in the form of cus- 
toms, a number of institutions which were neces- 
sary to make social life at all possible — to in- 
sure peace amongst men, to settle any disputes 
that might arise, and to help one another in 
everything requiring cooperative effort. The 
savage clan at its earliest stage, the village com- 
munity, the hunters', and, later on, the indus- 
trial guilds, the free town-republics of the mid- 
dle ages, the beginnings of international law 
which were worked out in those early periods, 
and many other institutions, — were elaborated, 
not by legislators, but by the creative power of 
the people. 

And at all times, too, there appeared sorcer- 
ers, prophets, priests, and heads of military or- 
ganizations, who endeavored to establish and to 
strengthen their authority over the people. 
They supported one another, concluded alli- 
ances, in order that they might reign over the 
people, hold them in subjection, and compel 
them to work for the masters. 

Anarchism is obviously the representative of 
the first tendency — that is, of the creative, con- 
structive power of the people themselves, which 
aimed at developing institutions of common law 
in order to protect them from the power-seeking 
minority. By means of the same popular cre- 

ative power and constructive activity, based upon 
modern science and technics, Anarchism tries 
now as well to develop institutions which would 
insure a free evolution of society. In this sense, 
therefore, Anarchists and Governmentalists have 
existed through all historic times. 

Then, again, it always happened also that in- 
stitutions — even the most excellent so far as 
their original purpose was concerned, and estab- 
lished originally with the object of securing 
equality, peace and mutual aid — in the course of 
time became petrified, lost their original mean- 
ing, came under the control of the ruling mi- 
nority, and became in the end a constraint upon 
the individual in his endeavors for further de- 
velopment. Then men would rise against these 
institutions. But, while some of these discon- 
tented endeavored to throw off the yoke of 
the old institutions — of caste, commune or 
guild — only in order that they themselves might 
rise over the rest and enrich themselves at their 
expense ; others aimed at a modification of the 
institutions in the interest of all, and especially 
in order to shake off the authority which had 
fixed its hold upon society. All reformers — 
political, religious, and economic — have belonged 
to this class. And among them there always 
appeared persons who, without abiding the time 
when all their fellow-countrymen, or even a 
majority of them, shall have become imbued 

with the same views, moved onward in the 
struggle against oppression, in mass where it was 
possible, and single-handed where it could not 
be done otherwise. These were the revolution- 
ists, and them, too, we meet at all times. 

But the revolutionists themselves generally- 
appeared under two different aspects. Some of 
them, in rising against the established authority, 
endeavored, not to abolish it, but to take it in 
their own hands. In place of the authority 
which had become oppressive, these reformers 
sought to create a new one, promising that if 
they exercised it they would have the interests 
of the people dearly at heart, and would ever 
represent the people themselves. In this way, 
however, the authority of the Caesars was estab- 
lished in Imperial Rome, the power of the 
Church rose in the first centuries after the fall 
of the Roman Empire, and the tyranny of dic- 
tators grew up in the mediaeval communes at 
the time of their decay. Of the same tendency, 
too, the kings and the tsars availed themselves 
to constitute their power at the end of the feudal 
period. The belief in a popular emperor, that 
is, Caesarism, has not died out even yet. 

But all the while another tendency was ever 
manifest. At all times, beginning with Ancient 
Greece, there were persons and popular move- 
ments that aimed, not at the substitution of 
one government for another, but at the abolition 

of authority altogether. They proclaimed the 
supreme rights of the individual and the people, 
and endeavored to free popular institutions from 
forces which were foreign and harmful to them, 
in order that the unhampered creative genius of 
the people might remould these institutions in 
accordance with the new requirements. In the 
history of the ancient Greek republics, and es- 
pecially in that of the mediaeval commonwealths, 
we find numerous examples of this struggle 
(Florence and Pskov are especially interesting in 
this connection). In this sense, therefore, Jacob- 
inists and Anarchists have existed at all times 
among reformers and revolutionists. 

In past ages there were even great popular 
movements of this latter (Anarchist) character. 
Many thousands of people then rose against au- 
thority — its tools, its courts and its laws — and 
proclaimed the supreme rights of man. Dis- 
carding all written laws, the promoters of these 
movements endeavored to establish a new society 
based on equality and labor and on the govern- 
ment of each by his own conscience. In the 
Christian movement against Roman law, Roman 
government, and Roman morality (or, rather, 
Roman immorality), which began in Judea in the 
reign of Augustus, there undoubtedly existed 
much that was essentially Anarchistic. Only by 
degrees it degenerated into an ecclesiastical 
movement, modeled upon the ancient Hebrew 

church and upon Imperial Rome itself, which 
filled the Anarchistic germ, assumed Roman 
governmental forms, and became in time the 
chief bulwark of government authority, slavery, 
and oppression. 

Likewise, in the Anabaptist movement (which 
really laid the foundation for the Reformation) 
there was a considerable element of Anarchism. 
But, stifled as it was by those of the reformers 
who, under Luther's leadership, joined the 
princes against the revolting peasants, it died 
out after wholesale massacres of the peasants 
had been carried out in Holland and Germany. 
Thereupon the moderate reformers degenerated 
by degrees into those compromisers between 
conscience and government who exist to-day 
under the name of Protestants. 

Anarchism, consequently, owes its origin to 
the constructive, creative activity of the people, 
by which all institutions of communal life were 
developed in the past, and to a protest — a revolt 
against the external force which had thrust itself 
upon these institutions ; the aim of this protest 
being to give new scope to the creative activity 
of the people, in order that it might work out 
the necessary institutions with fresh vigor. 

In our own time Anarchism arose from the 
same critical and revolutionary protest that 
called forth Socialism in general. Only that 
some of the socialists, having reached the nega- 

tion of Capital and of our social organization 
based upon the exploitation of labor, went no 
further. They did not denounce what, in our 
opinion, constitutes the chief bulwark of Capital ; 
namely, Government and its chief supports : 
centralization, law (always written by a minority 
in the interest of that minority), and Courts of 
Justice (established mainly for the defence of 
Authority and Capital). 

Anarchism does not exclude these institutions 
from its criticism. It attacks not only Capital, 
but also the main sources of the power of Capi- 


But, though Anarchism, like all other revo- 
lutionary movements, was born among the peo- 
ple — in the struggles of real life, and not in the 
philosopher's studio, — it is none the less import- 
ant to know what place it occupies among the 
various scientific and philosophic streams of 
thought now prevalent : what is its relation to 
them ; upon which of them principally does it 
rest ; what method it employs in its researches — 
in other words, to which school of philosophy 
of law it belongs, and to which of the now ex- 
isting tendencies in science it has the greatest 

We have heard of late so much about econ- 
omic metaphysics that this question naturally 

presents a certain interest ; and I shall endeavor 
to answer it as plainly as possible, avoiding dif- 
ficult phraseology wherever it can be avoided. 

The intellectual movement of our own times 
originated in the writings of the Scotch and the 
French philosophers of the middle and end of 
the eighteenth century. The universal awaken- 
ing of thought which began at that time stimu- 
lated these thinkers to desire to embody all 
human knowledge in one general system. Cast- 
ing aside mediaeval scholasticism and meta- 
physics, till then supreme, they decided to look 
upon the whole of Nature — the world of the stars, 
the life of the solar system and of our planet, 
the development of the animal world and of 
human societies — as upon phenomena open to 
scientific investigation and constituting so many 
branches of natural science. 

Freely availing themselves of the truly scien- 
tific, inductive-deductive method, they ap- 
proached the study of every group of phenom- 
ena — whether of the starry realm, of the animal 
world, or of the world of human beliefs and in- 
stitutions — just as the naturalist approaches the 
study of any physical problem. They carefully 
investigated the phenomena, and attained their 
generalizations by means of induction. Deduc- 
tion helped them in framing certain hypotheses ; 
but these they considered as no more final than, 


for instance, Darwin regarded his hypothesis 
concerning the origin of new species by means 
of the struggle for existence, or Mendeleeff his 
" periodic law." They saw in these hypotheses 
suppositions that were very convenient for the 
classification of facts and their further study, but 
which were subject to verification by inductive 
means, and which would become laws — that is, 
verified generalizations — only after they have 
stood this test, and after an explanation of cause 
and effect had been given. 

When the centre of the philosophic move- 
ment had shifted from Scotland and England 
to France, the French philosophers, with their 
natural sense of harmony, betook themselves to 
a systematic rebuilding of all the human sciences 
— the natural and the humanitarian sciences — 
on the same principles. From this resulted 
their attempt to construct a generalization of all 
knowledge, that is, a philosophy of the whole 
world and all its life. To this they endeavored 
to give a harmonious, scientific form, discarding 
all metaphysical constructions and explaining all 
phenomena by the action of the same mechanical 
forces which had proved adequate to the explana- 
tion of the origin and the development of the earth. 

It is said that, in answer to Napoleon's remark 
to Laplace that in his " System of the World " 
God was nowhere mentioned, Laplace replied, 

"I had no need of this hypothesis." But 
Laplace not only succeeded in writing his work 
without this supposition : he nowhere in this 
work resorted to metaphysical entities ; to words 
which conceal a very vague understanding of 
phenomena and the inability to represent them 
in concrete material forms — in terms of measur- 
able quantities. Heconstructed his system without 
metaphysics. And although in his " System 
of the World " there are no mathematical calcu- 
lations, and it is written in so simple a style as 
to be accessible to every intelligent reader, yet 
the mathematicians were able subsequently to 
express every separate thought of this book in 
the form of an exact mathematical equation — 
in terms, that is, of measurable quantities. So 
rigorously did Laplace reason and so lucidly 
did he express himself. 

The French eighteenth-century philosophers 
did exactly the same with regard to the phe- 
nomena of the spiritual world. In their writings 
one never meets with such metaphysical state- 
ments as are found, say, in Kant. Kant, as is well 
known, explained the moral sense of man by a 
"categorical imperative" which might at the same 
time be considered desirable as a universal law. * 

* Kant' s version of the ethical maxim, ' 'Do to others as 
you would have them do to you," reads : " Act only 
on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will 
that it should become a universal law." — Translator. 


But in this dictum every word ("imperative," 
"categorical," "law," "universal") is a vague 
verbal substitute for the material fact which is 
to be explained. The French encyclopaedists, 
on the contrary, endeavored to explain, just as 
their English predecessors had done, whence 
came the ideas of good and evil to man, without 
substituting "a word for the missing conception," 
as Goethe put it. They took the living man 
as he is. They studied him and found, as did 
Hutcheson (in 1725) and, after him, Adam 
Smith in his best work, " The Theory of Moral 
Sentiments," — that the moral sentiments have 
developed in man from the feeling of pity (sym- 
pathy), through his ability to put himself in 
another's place ; from the fact that we almost 
feel pain and grow indignant when a child is 
beaten in our presence. From simple observa- 
tions of common facts like these, they gradually 
attained to the broadest generalizations. In this 
manner they actually did explain the complex 
moral sense by facts more simple, and did not 
substitute for moral facts well known to and un- 
derstood by us, obscure terms like "the cate- 
gorical imperative, 'or " universal law," which do 
not explain anything. The merit of such a treat- 
ment is self-evident. Instead of the " inspiration 
from above" and a superhuman, miraculous 
origin of the moral sense, they dealt with the 
feeling of pity, of sympathy — derived by man 

through experience and inheritance, and sub- 
sequently perfected by further observation of 
social life. 

When the thinkers of the eighteenth century 
turned from the realm of stars and physical phe- 
nomena to the world of chemical changes, or 
from physics and chemistry to the study of plants 
and animals, or from botany and zoology to the 
development of economical and political forms 
of social life and to religions among men, — 
they never thought of changing their method 
of investigation. To all branches of knowledge 
they applied that same inductive method. And 
nowhere, not even in the domain of moral con- 
cepts, did they come upon any point where this 
method proved inadequate. Even in the sphere 
of moral concepts they felt no need of resorting 
again either to metaphysical suppositions ("God," 
"immortal soul," "vital force," "a categorical 
imperative " decreed from above, and the like), 
or of exchanging the inductive method for some 
other, scholastic method. They thus endeavored 
to explain the whole world — all its phenomena — 
in the same natural-scientific way. The encyclo- 
paedists compiled their monumental encyclo- 
paedia, Laplace wrote his "System of the World," 
and Holbach " The System of Nature ; " Lavoi- 
sier brought forward the theory of the in- 
destructibility of matter, and therefore also of 
energy or motion (Lomonosoff was at the same 

time outlining the mechanical theory of heat *) ; 
Lamarck undertook to explain the formation of 
new species through the accumulation of varia- 
tions due to environment ; Diderot was furnish- 
ing an explanation of morality, customs, and 
religions requiring no inspiration from without ; 
Rousseau was attempting to explain the origin 
of political institutions by means of a social con- 
tract — that is, an act of man's free will. . . . 
In short, there was no branch of science which 
the thinkers of the eighteenth century had not 
begun to treat on the basis of material phe- 
nomena — and all by that same inductive method. 
Of course, some palpable blunders were made 
in this daring attempt. Where knowledge was 
lacking, hypotheses — often very bold, but some- 

* Readers of Russian literature to whom Lomonosoff 
is known only by his literary work, may be surprised as 
much as I was to find his name mentioned in connec- 
tion with the theory of heat. On seeing the name in the 
original, I promptly consulted the library — so sure was 
I that I was confronted with a typographical error. There 
-was no mistake, however. For, Mikhail Vassilievich 
Lomonosoff (1712-1765), by far the most broadly gifted 
Russian of his time, was — I have thus been led to dis- 
cover — even more ardently devoted to science than to the 
muses. His accomplishments in the physical sciences 
alone, in which he experimented and upon which he 
-wrote and lectured extensively, would have won for him 
lasting fame in the history of Russian culture and first 
mention among its devotees. — Translator. 


times entirely erroneous — were put forth. But 
a new method was being applied to the develop- 
ment of all branches of science, and, thanks to 
it, these very mistakes were subsequently readily 
detected and pointed out. And at the same 
time a means of investigation was handed down 
to our nineteenth century which has enabled us 
to build up our entire conception of the world 
upon scientific bases, having freed it alike from 
the superstitions bequeathed to us and from the 
habit of disposing of scientific questions by re- 
sorting to mere verbiage. 

However, after the defeat of the French Rev- 
olution, a general reaction set in — in politics, in 
science, and in philosphy. Of course the funda- 
mental principles of the great Revolution did not 
die out. The emancipation of the peasants and 
townspeople from feudal servitude, equality be- 
fore the law, and representative (constitutional) 
government, proclaimed by the Revolution, 
slowly gained ground in and out of France. 
After the Revolution, which had proclaimed the 
great principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity, 
a slow evolution began — that is, a gradual reor- 
ganization which introduced into life and law the 
principles marked out, but only partly realized, 
by the Revolution. (Such a realization through 
evolution of principles proclaimed by the pre- 
ceding revojution, may even -be regarded- as a 

general law of social development). Although 
the Church, the State, and even Science tram- 
pled on the banner upon which the Revolution 
had inscribed the words " Liberty, Equality, and 
Fraternity"; although to be reconciled to the 
existing state of things became for a time a uni- 
versal watch-word ; still the principles of free- 
dom were slowly entering into the affairs of life. 
It is true that the feudal obligations abolished by 
the republican armies of Italy and Spain were 
again restored in these countries, and that even 
the inquisition itself was revived. But a mortal 
blow had already been dealt them — and their 
doom was sealed. The wave of emancipation 
from the feudal yoke reached, first, Western, and 
then Eastern Germany, and spread over the pen- 
insulas. Slowly moving eastward, it reached 
Prussia in 1848, Russia in 1861, and the Bal- 
kans in 1878. Slavery disappeared in America 
in 186^.^ At the same time the ideas of the 
equality of all citizens before the law, and of 
representative government were also spreading 
from west to east, and by the end of the century 
Russia alone remained under the yoke of auto- 
cracy, already much impaired. 

On the other hand, on the threshold of the 
nineteenth century, the ideas of economic eman- 
cipation had already been proclaimed. In Eng- 
land, Godwin published in 1793 his remarkable 

work, " An Enquiry into Political Justice," in 
which he was the first to establish the theory of 
non-governmental socialism, that is, Anarchism ; 
and Babeuf — especially influenced, as it seems, 
by Buonarotti — came forward in 1796 as the 
first theorist of centralized State-socialism. 

Then, developing the principles already laid 
down in the eighteenth century, Fourier, Saint- 
Simon, and Robert Owen came forward as the 
three founders of modern socialism in its three 
chief schools ; and in the forties Proudhon, un- 
acquainted with the work of Godwin, laid down 
anew the bases of Anarchism. 

The scientific foundations of both govern- 
mental and non-governmental socialism were 
thus laid down at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century with a thoroughness wholly unappre- 
ciated by our contemporaries. Only in two re- 
spects, doubtless very important ones, has mod- 
ern socialism materially advanced. It has be- 
come revolutionary, and has severed all connec- 
tion with the Christian religion. It realized that 
for the attainment of its ideals a Social Revolu- 
tion is necessary — not in the sense in which peo- 
ple sometimes speak of an "industrial revolu- 
tion " or of " a revolution in science," but in the 
real, material sense of the word " Revolution " 
— in the sense of rapidly changing the funda- 
mental principles of present society by means 
which, in the usual run of events, are considered 

illegal. And it ceased to confuse its views with 
the optimist reforming tendencies of the Christian 
religion. But this latter step had already been 
taken by Godwin and R. Owen. As regards the 
admiration of centralized authority and the 
preaching of discipline, for which man is histori- 
cally indebted chiefly to the mediaeval church 
and to church rule generally — these survivals 
have been retained among the mass of the State 
socialists, who have thus failed to rise to the 
level of their two English forerunners. 

Of the influence which the reaction that set ' 
in after the Great Revolution has had upon the 
development of the sciences, it would be difficult 
to speak in this essay.* Suffice it to say, that 
by far the greater part of what modern science 
prides itself on was already marked out, and 
more than marked out — sometimes even ex- 
pressed in a definite scientific form — at the end 
of the eighteenth century. The mechanical 
theory of heat and the indestructibility of motion 
(the conservation of energy) ; the modification 
of species by the action of environment ; physi- 
ological psychology ; the anthropological view 
of history, religion, and legislation ; the laws of 
development of thought — in short, the whole 
mechanical conception of the world and all the 

*Something in this line is set forth in my lecture "On 
the Scientific Development in the XIX Century." 

elements of a synthetic philosophy (a philosophy 
which embraces all physical, chemical, living 
and social phenomena), — were already outlined 
and partly formulated in the preceding century. 

But, owning to the reaction which set in, 
these discoveries were kept in the background 
during a full half-century. Men of science sup- 
pressed them or else declared them " unscien- 
tific." Under the pretext of " studying facts " 
and "gathering scientific material," even such 
exact measurements as the determination of the 
mechanical power necessary for obtaining a 
given amount of heat (the determination by 
Seguin and Joule of the mechanical equivalent 
of heat) were set aside by the scientists. The 
English Royal Society even declined to publish 
the results of Joule's investigations into this sub- 
ject on the ground that they were " unscientific." 
And the excellent work of Grove upon the 
unity of physical forces, written in 1843, re- 
mained up to 1856 in complete obscurity. Only 
on consulting the history of the exact sciences 
can one fully understand the forces of reaction 
which then swept over Europe. 

The curtain was suddenly rent at the end of 
the fifties, when that liberal, intellectual move- 
ment began in Western Europe which led in 
Russia to the abolition of serfdom, and deposed 
Schelling and Hegel in philosophy, while in life 
it called forth the bold negation of intellectual 

slavery and submission to habit and authority, 
which is known under the name of Nihilism. 

It is interesting to note in this connection 
the extent to which the socialist teachings of 
the thirties and forties, and also the revolution 
of 1848, have helped science to throw off the 
fetters placed upon it by the post-revolutionary 
reaction. Without entering here into detail, it 
is sufficient to say that the above-mentioned 
Seguin and Augustin Thierry (the historian who 
laid the foundations for the study of the folk- 
mote regime and of federalism) were Saint- 
Simonists, that Darwin's fellow-worker, A. R. 
Wallace, was in his younger days an enthusi- 
astic follower of Robert Owen ; that Auguste 
Comte was a Saint-Simonist, and Ricardo and 
Bentham were Owenists ; and that the material- 
ists Charles Vogt and George Lewis, as well as 
Grove, Mill, Spencer, and many others, had 
lived under the influence of the radical socialstic 
movement of the thirties and forties. It was to 
this very influence that they owed their scien- 
tific boldness. 

The simultaneous appearance of the works 
of Grove, Joule, Berthollet and Helmholtz ; of 
Darwin, Claude Bernard, Moleschott and Vogt ; 
of Lyell, Bain, Mill and Burnouf — all in the 
brief space of five or six years (1856—1862), — 
radically changed the most fundamental views 
of science. Science suddenly started upon a 

new path. Entirely new fields of investigation 
were opened with amazing rapidity. The sci- 
ence of life (Biology), of human institutions 
(Anthropology), of reason, will and emotions 
(Psychology), of the history of rights and re- 
ligions, and so on — grew up under our very 
eyes, staggering the mind with the boldness of 
their generalizations and the audacity of their 
deductions. What in the preceding century 
was only an ingenious guess, now came forth 
proved by the scales and the microscope, veri- 
fied by thousands of applications. The very 
manner of writing changed, and science returned 
to the clearness, the precision, and the beauty 
of exposition which are peculiar to the inductive 
method and which characterized those of the 
thinkers of the eighteenth century who had 
broken away from metaphysics. 

To predict what direction science will take in 
its further development is, evidently, impossible. 
As long as men of science depend upon the 
rich and the governments, so long will they 
of necessity remain subject to influence from 
this quarter; and this, of course, can again 
arrest for a time the development of science. 
But one thing is certain : in the form that sci- 
ence is now assuming there is no longer any 
need of the hypothesis which Laplace consid- 
ered useless, or of the metaphysical "words" 

which Goethe ridiculed. The book of nature, 
the book of organic life, and that of human de- 
velopment, can already be read without resort- 
ing to the power of a creator, a mystical "vital 
force," an immortal soul, Hegel's trilogy, or 
the endowment of abstract symbols with real 
life. Mechanical phenomena, in their ever- 
increasing complexity, suffice for the explana- 
tion of nature and the whole of organic and 
social life. 

There is much, very much, in the world that 
is still unknown to us — much that is dark and 
incomprehensible ; and of such unexplained 
gaps new ones will always be disclosed as soon 
as the old ones have been filled up. But we 
do not know of, and do not see the possibility of 
discovering, any domain in which the phenom- 
ena observed in the fall of a stone, or in the im- 
pact of two billiard balls, or in a chemical reac- 
tion — that is, mechanical phenomena — should 
prove inadequate to the necessary explanations. 


It was natural that, as soon as science had 
attained such generalizations, the need of a syn- 
thetic philosophy should be felt ; a philosophy 
which, no longer discussing "the essence of 
things," " first causes," the " aim of life," 
and similar symbolic expressions, and repudiat- 
ing all sorts of anthropomorphism (the endow- 

ment of natural phenomena with human charac- 
teristics), should be a digest and unification of 
all our knowledge ; a philosophy which, pro- 
ceeding from the simple to the complex, would 
furnish a key to the understanding of all nature, 
in its entirety, and, through that, indicate to us 
the lines of further research and the means of 
discovering new, yet unknown, correlations (so- 
called laws), while at the same time it would 
inspire us with confidence in the correctness of 
our conclusions, however much they may differ 
from current superstitions. 

Such attempts at a constructive synthetic phil- 
osophy were made several times during the 
nineteenth century, the chief of them being 
those of Auguste Comte and of Herbert Spen- 
cer. On these two we shall have to dwell. 

The need of such a philosophy as this was 
admitted already in the eighteenth century — by 
the philosopher and economist Turgot and, 
subsequently, even more clearly by Saint-Simon. 
As has been stated above, the encyclopaedists, 
and likewise Voltaire in his " Philosophical Dic- 
tionary," had already begun to construct it. In 
a more rigorous, scientific form which would 
satisfy the requirements of the exact sciences, it 
was now undertaken by Auguste Comte. 

It is well known that Comte acquitted himself 
very ably of his task so far as the exact sciences 

were concerned. He was quite right in includ- 
ing the science of life (Biology) and that of 
human societies (Sociology) in the circle of sci- 
ences compassed by his positive philosophy ; 
and his philosophy has had a great influence 
upon all scientists and philosophers of the 
nineteenth century. 

But why was it that this great philosopher 
proved so weak the moment he took up, in his 
" Positive Politics," the study of social institu- 
tions, especially those of modern times ? This 
is the question which most admirers of Comte 
have asked themselves. How could such a 
broad and strong mind come to the religion 
which Comte preached in the closing years of 
his life? Littre and Mill, it is well known, re- 
fused even to recognize Comte's "Politics" as 
part of his philosophy ; they considered it the 
product of a weakened mind ; while others ut- 
terly failed in their endeavors to discover a unity 
of method in the two works.* 

* None that know the author's fairness of mind will 
be likely to accuse him of partiality in the scathing 
criticism he here makes of the Apostle of Positivism. 
Lest any reader be inclined to do so, however, it may 
not be amiss to cite on this point the opinion of a critic 
unquestionably conservative and, presumably, impar- 
tial — an opinion I came upon by mere chance while en- 
gaged on this translation. Scattered through pages 560 to 
563 of Falckenberg' s " History of Modern Philosophy " 
(Henry Holt & Co., New York, 1893), I find the follow- 

And yet the contradiction between the two 
parts of Comte's philosophy is in the highest 
degree characteristic and throws a bright light 
upon the problems of our own time. 

When Comte had finished his " Course of 
Positive Philosophy," he undoubtedly must have 
perceived that he had not yet touched upon the 
most important point — namely, the origin in 
man of the moral principle and the influence of 
this principle upon human life. He was bound 
to account for the origin of this principle, to ex- 
plain it by the same phenomena by which he had 
explained life in general, and to show why man 
feels the necessity of obeying his moral sense, 
or, at least, of reckoning with it. But for this 
he was lacking in knowledge (at the time he 

ing estimate of Comte and his uneven work: "The 
extraordinary character of which [Comte's philosophy] 
has given occasion to his critics to make a complete di- 
vision between the second, 'subjective or sentimental, ' 
period of his thinking, in which the philosopher is said 
to be transformed into the high priest of a new religion, 
and the first, the positivistic period. . . . Beneath 
the surface of the most sober inquiry mystical and dic- 
tatorial tendencies pulsate in Comte from the beginning. 
. The historical influence exercised by Comte 
through his later writings is extremely small in compari- 
son with that of his chief work. . . . Comte's school 
divided into two groups — the apostates, who reject the 
subjective phase and hold fast to the earlier doctrine, 
and the faithful." — Translator. 

wrote this was quite natural) as well as in bold- 
ness. So, in lieu of the God of all religions, 
whom man must worship and to whom he must 
appeal in order to be virtuous, he placed Hu- 
manity, writ large. To this new idol he ordered 
us to pray, that we might develop in ourselves 
the moral concept. But once this step had 
been taken — once it was found necessary to pay 
homage to something standing outside of and 
higher than the individual in order to retain 
man on the moral path — all the rest followed 
naturally. Even the ritualism of Comte's relig- 
ion moulded itself very naturally upon the model 
of all the preceding positive religions. 

Once Comte would not admit that everything 
that is moral in man grew out of observation of 
nature and from the very conditions of men liv- 
ing in societies, — this step was necessary. He 
did not see that the moral sentiment in man is 
as deeply rooted as all the rest of his physical 
constitution inherited by him from his slow 
evolution ; that the moral concept in man had 
made its first appearance in the animal societies 
which existed long before man had appeared 
upon earth; and that, consequently, whatever 
may be the inclinations of separate individuals, 
this concept must persist in mankind as long as the 
human species does not begin to deteriorate, — 
the anti-moral activity of separate men inevitably 
calling forth a counter-activity on the part of 

those who surround them, just as action causes 
reaction in the physical world. Comte did not 
understand this, and therefore he was compelled 
to invent a new idol — Humanity — in order that 
it should constantly recall man to the moral path. 
Like Saint-Simon, Fourier, and almost all his 
other contemporaries, Comte thus paid his tri- 
bute to the Christian education he had received. 
Without a struggle of the evil principles with 
the good — in which the two should be equally 
matched — and without man's application in 
prayer to the good principle and its apostles on 
earth for maintaining him in the virtuous path, 
Christianty cannot be conceived. And Comte, 
dominated from childhood by this Christian 
idea, reverted to it as soon as he found himself 
face to face with the question of morality and 
the means of fortifying it in the heart of man. 


But it must not be forgotten that Comte wrote 
his Positivist Philosophy long before the years 
1 8 56-1 862, which, as stated above, suddenly 
widened the horizon of science and the world- 
concept of every educated man. 

The works which appeared in these five or 
six years have wrought so complete a change in 
the views on nature, on life in general, and on 
the life of human societies, that it has no parallel 
in the whole history of science for the past two 
- 3° 

thousand years. That which had been but 
vaguely understood — sometimes only guessed at 
by the encyclopaedists, and that which the best 
minds in the first half of the nineteenth century 
had so much difficulty in explaining, appeared 
now in the full armor of science ; and it presented 
itself so thoroughly investigated through the 
inductive-deductive method that every other 
method was at once adjudged imperfect, false and 
— unnecessary. 

Let us, then, dwell a little longer upon the 
results obtained in these years, that we may 
better appreciate the next attempt at a synthetic 
philosophy, which was made by Herbert Spencer. 

Grove, Clausius, Helmholtz, Joule, and a 
whole group of physicists and astronomers, — 
as also Kirchhoff, who discovered the spectro- 
scopic analysis and gave us the means of de- 
termining the composition of the most distant 
stars, — these, in rapid succession at the end of 
the fifties, proved the unity of nature through- 
out the inorganic world To talk of certain 
mysterious, imponderable fluids — calorific, mag- 
netic, electrical — at once became impossible. 
It was shown that the mechanical motion of 
molecules which takes place in the waves of 
the sea or in the vibrations of a bell or a tuning 
fork, was adequate to the explanation of all the 
phenomena of heat, light, electricity and mag- 
netism ; that we can measure them and weigh 

their energy. More than this : that in the heav- 
enly bodies most remote from us the same 
vibration of molecules takes place, with the 
same effects. Nay, the mass movements of the 
heavenly bodies themselves, which run through 
space according to the laws of universal gravita- 
tion, represent, in all likelihood, nothing else 
than the resultants of these vibrations of light 
and electricity, transmitted for billions and tril- 
lions of miles through interstellar space. 

The same calorific and electrical vibrations of 
molecules of matter proved also adequate to ex- 
plain all chemical phenomena. And then, the 
very life of plants and animals, in its infinitely 
varied manifestations, has been found to be 
nothing else than a continually going on ex- 
change of molecules in that wide range of very 
complex, and hence unstable and easily de- 
composed, chemical compounds from which are 
built the tissues of every living being. 

Then, already during those years it was un- 
derstood — and for the past ten years it has bee« 
still more firmly established — that the life of the 
cells of the nervous system and their property 
of transmitting vibrations from one to the other, 
afforded a mechanical explanation of the ner- 
vous life of animals. Owing to these investiga- 
tions, we can now understand, without leaving 
the domain of purely physiological observations, 
how impressions and images are produced and 

retained in the brain, how their mutual effects 
result in the association of ideas (every new 
impression awakening impressions previously- 
stored up), and hence also — in thought. 

Of course, very much still remains to be done 
and to be discovered in this vast domain ; sci- 
ence, scarcely freed yet from the metaphysics 
which so long hampered it, is only now begin- 
ning to explore the wide field of physical 
psychology. But the start has already been 
made, and a solid foundation is laid for further 
labors. The old-fashioned classification of phe- 
nomena into two sets, which the German philos- 
opher Kant endeavored to establish, — one con- 
cerned with investigations " in time and space" 
(the world of physical phenomena) and the 
other "in time only" (the world of spiritual 
phenomena), — now falls of itself. And to the 
question once asked by the Russian physiolo- 
gist, Setchenov : " By whom and how should 
psychology be studied?" science has already 
given the answer : " By physiologists, and by 
the physiological method." And, indeed, the re- 
cent labors of the physiologists have already suc- 
ceeded in shedding incomparably more light than 
all the intricate discussions of the metaphysicists, 
upon the mechanism of thought ; the awakening of 
impressions, their retention and transmission. 

In this, its chief stronghold, metaphysics was 
thus worsted. The field in which it considered 

itself invincible has now been taken possession 
of by natural science and materialist philoso- 
phy, and these two are promoting the growth 
of knowledge in this direction faster than cen- 
turies of metaphysical speculation have done. 

In these same years another important step 
was made. Darwin's book on ' ' The Origin of 
Species " appeared and eclipsed all the rest. 

Already in the last century Buffon (appa- 
rently even Linnaeus), and on the threshold of 
the nineteenth century Lamarck, had ventured 
to maintain that the existing species of plants 
and animals are not fixed forms ; that they are 
variable and vary continually even now. The 
very fact of family likeness which exists be- 
tween groups of forms — Lamarck pointed out — 
is a proof of their common descent from a com- 
mon ancestry. Thus, for example, the various 
forms of meadow buttercups, water buttercups, 
and all other buttercups which we see on our 
meadows and swamps, must have been pro- 
duced by the action of environment upon de- 
scendants from one common type of ancestors. 
Likewise, the present species of wolves, dogs, 
jackals and foxes did not exist in a remote 
past, but there was in their stead one kind of 
animals out of which, under various conditions, 
the wolves, the dogs, the jackals and the foxes 
have gradually evolved. 

But in the eighteenth century such heresies as 
these had to be uttered with great circumspec- 
tion. The Church was still very powerful then, 
and for such heretical views the naturalist had 
to reckon with prison, torture, or the lunatic's 
asylum. The " heretics " consequently were 
cautious in their expressions. Now, however, 
Darwin and A. R. Wallace could boldly main- 
tain so great a heresy. Darwin even ven- 
tured to declare that man, too, had originated, 
in the same way of slow physiological evolu- 
tion, from some lower forms of ape-like ani- 
mals; that his "immortal spirit" and his 
" moral soul " are as much a product of evolu- 
tion as the mind and the moral habits of the 
ant or of the chimpanzee. 

We know what storms then broke out upon 
Darwin and, especially, upon his bold and gifted 
disciple, Huxley, who sharply emphasized just 
those conclusions from Darwin's work which 
were most dreaded by the clergy. It was a 
fierce battle, but, owing to the support of the 
masses of the public, the victory was won, 
nevertheless, by the Darwinians ; and the result 
was that an entirely new and extremely import- 
ant science — Biology, the science of life in all 
its manifestations — has grown up under our 
very eyes during the last forty years. 

At the same time Darwin's work furnished 
a new key to the understanding of all sorts of 

phenomena — physical, vital, and social. It 
opened up a new road for their investigation. 
The idea of a continuous development (evolu- 
tion) and of a continual adaptation to changing 
environment, found a much wider application 
than the origin of species. It was applied to 
the study of all nature, as well as to men and 
their social institutions, and it disclosed in these 
branches entirely unknown horizons, giving ex- 
planations of facts which hitherto had seemed 
quite inexplicable. 

Owing to the impulse given by Darwin's 
work to all natural sciences, Biology was created, 
which, in Herbert Spencer's hands, soon ex- 
plained to us how the countless forms of living 
beings inhabiting the earth may have developed, 
and enabled Haeckel to make the first attempt 
at formulating a genealogy of all animals, man 
included. In the same way a solid foundation 
for the history of the development of man's cus- 
toms, manners, beliefs and institutions was laid 
down — a history the want of which was strongly 
felt by the eighteenth century philosophers and 
by Auguste Comte. At the present time this 
history can be written without resorting to 
either the formulae of Hegelean metapysics or 
to "innate ideas" and" "inspiration from with- 
out " — without any of those dead formulae be- 
hind which, concealed by words as by clouds, 
was always hidden the same ancient ignorance 

and the same superstition. Owing, on the one 
hand, to the labors of the naturalists, and, on 
the other, to those of Henry Maine and his fol- 
lowers, who applied the same inductive method 
to the study of primitive customs and laws that 
have grown out of them, it became possible in 
recent years to place the history of the origin 
and development of human institutions upon as 
firm a basis as that of the development of any 
form of plants or animals. 

It would, of course, be extremely unfair to 
forget the enormous work that was done ear- 
lier — already in the thirties — towards the work- 
ing out of the history of institutions by the 
school of Augustin Thierry in France, by 
that of Maurer and the " Germanists " in Ger- 
many, and in Russia, somewhat later, by Kos- 
tomarov, Belyaev and others. In fact, the prin- 
ciple of evolution had been applied to the study 
of manners and institutions, and also to lan- 
guages, from the time of the encyclopaedists. 
But to obtain correct, scientific deductions from 
all this mass of work became possible only when 
the scientists could look upon the established 
facts in the same way as the naturalist regards 
the continuous development of the organs of a 
plant or of a new species. 

The metaphysical formulae have helped, in 
their time, to make certain approximate general- 
izations. Especially did they stimulate the 

slumbering thought, disturbing it by their vague 
hints as to the unity of life in nature. At a 
time when the inductive generalizations of the 
encyclopaedists and their English predecessors 
were almost forgotten (in the first half of 
the nineteenth century), and when it required 
some civic courage to speak of the unity of 
physical and spiritual nature — the obscure meta- 
physics still upheld the tendency toward gener- 
alization. But those generalizations were estab- 
lished either by means of the dialectic method 
or by means of a semi-conscious induction, and, 
therefore, were always characterized by a hopeless 
indefiniteness. The former kind of generalizations 
was deduced by means of really fallacious syllo- 
gisms — similar to those by which in ancient times 
certain Greeks used to prove that the planets 
must move in circles "because the circle is the 
most perfect curve ; " and the meagerness of the 
premises would then be concealed by misty 
words, and, worse still, by an obscure and clumsy 
exposition. As to the semi-conscious inductions 
which were made here and there, they were 
based upon a very limited circle of observations 
— similar to the broad but unwarranted general- 
ization of Weissmann, which have recently cre- 
ated some sensation. Then, as the induction 
was unconscious, the generalizations were put 
forth in the shape of hard and fast laws, while 
in reality they were but simple suppositions — 

hypotheses, or beginnings only of generalizations, 
which, far from being "laws," required yet the 
very first verification by observation. Finally, all 
these broad deductions, expressed as they were 
in most abstract forms — as, for instance, the 
Hegelean "thesis, antithesis, and synthesis," — 
left full play for the individual to come to the 
most varied and often opposite practical conclu- 
sions ; so that they could give birth, for instance, 
to Bakunin's revolutionary enthusiasm and to 
the Dresden Revolution, to the revolutionary 
Jacobinism of Marx and to the recognition of 
the "reasonableness of what exists," which 
reconciled so many Germans to the reaction 
then existing — to say nothing of the recent 
vagaries of the so-called Russian Marxists. 


Since Anthropology — the history of man's 
physiological development and of his religious, 
political ideals, and economic institutions — came 
to be studied exactly as all other natural sciences 
are studied, it was found possible, not only to 
shed a new light upon this history, but to divest 
it for ever of the metaphysics which had hindered 
this study in exactly the same way as the Bibli- 
cal teachings had hindered the study of Geology. 

It would seem, therefore, that when the con- 
struction of a synthetic philosophy was under- 
taken anew by Herbert Spencer, he should have 
been able, armed as he was with all the latest 

conquests of science, to build it without falling 
into the errors made by Comte in his " Positive 
Politics." And yet Spencer's synthetic philoso- 
phy, though it undoubtedly represents an enor- 
mous step in advance (complete as it is without 
religion and religious rites), still contains in its 
sociological part mistakes as gross as are found 
in the former work. 

The fact is that, having reached in his analy- 
sis the psychology of societies, Spencer did not 
remain true to his rigorously scientific method, 
and failed to accept all the conclusions to which 
it had led him. Thus, for example, Spencer ad- 
mits that the land ought not to become the prop- 
erty of individuals, who, in consequence of their 
right to raise rents, would hinder others from 
extracting from the soil all that could be ex- 
tracted from it under improved methods of cul- 
tivation ; or would even simply keep it out of 
use in the expectation that its market price will 
be raised by the labor of others. An arrange- 
ment such as this he considers inexpedient and 
full of dangers for society. But, while admit- 
ting this in the case of the land, he did not ven- 
ture to extend this conclusion to all other forms 
of accumulated wealth — for example, to mines, 
harbors, and factories. 

Or, again, while protesting against the inter- 
ference of government in the life of society, and 
giving to one of his books a title which is 

equivalent to a revolutionary programme, " The 
Individual vs. The State," he, little by little, 
under the pretext of the defensive activity of the " 
State, ended by reconstructing the State in its 
entirety, — such as it is to-day, only slightly lim- 
iting its attributes. 

These and other inconsistencies are probably 
accounted for by the fact that the sociological 
part of Spencer's philosophy was formulated in 
his mind (under the influence of the English 
radical movement) much earlier than its natural- 
scientific part — namely, before 1851, when the 
anthropological investigation of human institu- 
tions was still in its rudimentary stage. In con- 
sequence of this, Spencer, like Comte, did not 
take up the investigation of these institutions 
by themselves, without preconceived conclusions. 
Moreover, as soon as he came in his work to 
social philosophy — to Sociology — he began to 
make use of a new method, a most unreliable 
one — the method of analogies — which he, of 
course, never resorted to in the study of physical 
phenomena. This new method permitted him 
to justify a whole series of preconceived theories. 
Consequently, we do not possess as yet a phi- 
losophy constructed in both its parts — natural 
sciences and sociology — with the aid of the 
same scientific method. 

Then, Spencer, it must also be added, is the 
man least suited for the study of primitive insti- 

.tutions. In this respect he is distinguished 
even among the English, who generally do not 
enter readily into foreign modes of life and 
thought. "We are a people of Roman law, 
and the Irish are common-law people : there- 
fore we do not understand each other," a very 
intelligent Englishman once remarked to me. The 
history of the Englishmen's relations with the 
" lower races " is full of like misunderstandings. 
And we see them in Spencer's writings at every 
step. He is quite incapable of understanding 
the customs and ways of thinking of the savage, 
the "blood revenge" of the Icelandic saga, or 
the stormy life, filled with struggles, of the me- 
diaeval cities. The moral ideas of these stages 
of civilization are absolutely strange to him ; 
and he sees in them only "savagery," "despot- 
ism," and "cruelty." 

Finally^ — what is still more important — Spen- 
cer, like Huxley and many others, utterly mis- 
understood the meaning of " the struggle for 
existence." He saw in it, not only a struggle 
between different species of animals (wolves de- 
vouring rabbits, birds feeding on insects, etc.), 
but also a desperate struggle for food, for living- 
room, among the different members within every 
species — a struggle which, in reality, does not as- 
sume anything like the proportions he imagined. 

How far Darwin himself was to blame for this 
misunderstanding of the real meaning of the 

struggle for existence, we cannot discuss here. 
But certain it is that when, twelve years after 
"The Origin of Species," Darwin published his 
" Descent of Man " he already understood strug- 
gle for life in a different sense. " Those com- 
munities," he wrote in the latter work, "which 
included the greatest number of the most sym- 
pathetic members would flourish best and rear 
the greatest number of offspring." The chapter 
devoted by Darwin to this subject could have 
formed the basis of an entirely different and most 
wholesome view of nature and of the develop- 
ment of human societies (the significance of 
which Goethe had already foreseen). But it 
passed unnoticed. Only in 1879 do we ^ n ^> m 
a lecture by the Russian zoologist Kessler, a 
clear understanding of mutual aid and the strug- 
gle for life. " For the progressive development 
of a species," Kessler pointed out, citing several 
examples, " the law of mutual aid is of far greater 
importance than the law of mutual struggle." 
Soon after this Louis Biichner published his 
book " Love," in which he showed the import- 
ance of sympathy among animals for the devel- 
opment of moral concepts; but, in introducing the 
idea of love and sympathy instead of simple so- 
ciability, he needlessly limited the sphere of his 

To prove and further to develop Kessler's ex- 
cellent idea, extending it to man, was an easy 

step. If we turn our minds to a close observa- 
tion of nature and to an unprejudiced history of 
human institutions, we soon discover that Mu- 
tual Aid really appears, not only as the most 
powerful weapon in the struggle for existence 
against the hostile forces of nature and all other 
enemies, but also as the chief factor of progres- 
sive evolution. To the weakest animals it assures 
longevity (and hence an accumulation of mental 
experience), the possibility of rearing its progeny, 
and intellectual progress. And those animal 
species among which Mutual Aid is practiced 
most, not only succeed best in getting their live- 
lihood, but also stand at the head of their re- 
spective class (of insects, birds, mammals) as re- 
gards the superiority of their physical and men- 
tal development. 

This fundamental fact of nature Spencer did 
not perceive. The struggle for existence within 
every species, the "free fight" for every morsel 
of food, Tennyson's " Nature, red in tooth and 
claw with ravine" — he accepted as a fact requir- 
ing no proof, as an axiom. Only in recent years 
did he begin in some degree to understand the 
meaning of mutual aid in the animal world, and 
to collect notes and make experiments in this 
direction. But even then he still thought of 
primitive man as of a beast who lived only by 
snatching, with tooth and claw, the last morsel 
of food from the mouth of his fellowmen. 


Of course, having based the sociological part 
of his philosophy on so false a premise, Spencer 
was no longer able to build up the sociological 
part of his synthetic philosophy without falling 
into a series of errors. 


In these erroneous views, however, Spencer 
does not stand alone. Following Hobbes, all 
the philosophy of the nineteenth century con- 
tinues to look upon the savages as upon bands 
of wild beasts which lived an isolated life and 
fought among themselves over food and wives, 
until some benevolent authority appeared among 
them and forced them to keep the peace. Even 
such a naturalist as Huxley advocated the same 
views as Hobbes, who maintained that in the 
beginning people lived in a state of war, fighting 
"each against all," * till, at last, owing to a few 
advanced persons of the time, the " first society " 
was created (see his article " The Struggle for 
Existence — a Law of Nature.") Even Huxley, 
therefore, failed to realize that it was not Man 
who created society, but that social life existed 
among animals much earlier than the advent 
of man. Such is the power of deep-rooted 

*Hobbes' exact words are : " Bellum omnium contra 
omnes." (The war of everyone against everybody). 
— Translator. 


Were we, however, to trace the history of this 
prejudice, it would not be difficult to convince 
ourselves that it originated chiefly in religions 
and among their representatives. The secret 
leagues of sorcerers, rain-makers, and so on, 
among primitive clans, and later on, the Baby- 
lonian, Assyrian, Egyptian, Indian, Hebrew and 
other priesthoods, and later still the Christian 
priests, have always been endeavoring to per- 
suade men that thejMay deep in sin , and that 
only the intercession of the^iharnan, the magi- 
cian, and the priest can keep the evil spirit from 
assuming control over man, or can prevail 
with a revengeful God not to visit upon man 
his retribution for sin. Primitive Christianity, 
it is true, faintly attempted to break up this 
prejudice ; but the Christian Church, adhering 
to the very language of the gospels concerning 
'< eternal fire " and " the wrath of God," intensi- 
fied it still more. The very conception of a son 
of God who had come to die for "the redemp- 
tion of sin," served as a basis for this view. No 
wonder that later on "the Holy Inquisition" 
subjected people to the most cruel tortures and 
burned them slowly at the stake in order to af- 
ford them an opportunity of repenting and of 
saving themselves thereby from eternal torment. 
And not the Catholic Church alone, but all other 
Christian Churches vied with one another in in- 
venting all kinds of tortures in order to better 

people "steeped in sin." Up to the present 
time, nine hundred and ninety-nine persons in a ' 
thousand still believe that natural calamities — 
droughts, floods, earthquakes, and epidemic dis- 
eases — are sent by a Divine Being for the pur- 
pose of recalling sinful mankind to the right 
path. In this belief an enormous majority of our 
children are being brought up to this very day. 

At the same time the State, in its schools and 
universities, countenances the same belief in the 
innate perversity of man. To prove the necessity 
of some power that stands above society and 
inculcates in it the moral principles (with the 
aid of punishments inflicted for violations of 
"moral law," for which, by means of a clever 
trick, the written law is easily substituted), — to 
keep people in this belief is a matter of life or 
death to the State. Because, the moment people 
come to doubt the necessity and possibility of 
such an inoculation of morality, they will begin 
to doubt the higher mission of their rulers as 

In this way everything — our religious, our 
historical, our legal, and our social education — 
is imbued with the idea that man, left to himself, 
would soon turn into a beast. If it were not 
for the authority exercised over them, people 
would devour one another; nothing but bru- 
tality and war of each against all can be ex- 
pected from "the mob." It would perish, if 

the policeman, the sheriff and the hangman — 
the chosen few, the salt of the earth — did not 
tower above it and interpose to prevent the uni- 
versal free-fight, to educate the people to respect 
the sanctity of law and discipline, and with a 
wise hand lead them onward to those times 
when better ideas shall find a nestling place in 
the " uncouth hearts of men " and render the 
rod, the prison, and the gallows less necessary 
than they are at present. 

We laugh at a certain king who, on going 
into exile in 1848, said: "My poor subjects; 
now they will perish without me ! " We smile 
at the English clerk who believes that the 
English are the lost tribe of Israel, appointed 
by God himself to administer good govern- 
ment to "all other, lower races." But does not 
the great majority of fairly educated people 
among all nations entertain the same exalted 
opinion with regard to itself? 

And yet, a scientific study of the develop- 
ment of human society and institutions leads to 
an entirely different conclusion. It shows that 
the habits and customs for mutual aid, common 
defence, and the preservation of peace, which were 
established since the very first stages of human 
pre-historic times — and which alone made it 
possible for man, under very trying natural con- 
ditions, to survive in the struggle for existence, — 

that these social conventions have been worked 
out precisely by this anonymous "mob." As 
to the so-called " leaders " of humanity, they " 
have not contributed anything useful that 
was not developed previously in customary 
law ; they may have emphasized (they nearly 
always vitiated) some useful existing cus- 
toms, but they have not invented them ; while 
they always strove, on their side, to turn to 
their own advantage the common-law institu- 
tions that had been worked out by the masses 
for their mutual protection, or, failing in this, 
endeavored to destroy them. 

Even in the remotest antiquity, which is lost 
in the darkness of the stone age, men already 
lived in societies. In these societies was already 
developed a whole network of customs and 
sacred, religiously-respected institutions of the 
communal regime or of the clan which rendered 
social life possible. And through all the sub- 
sequent stages of development we find it was 
exactly this constructive force of the " unin- 
formed mob " that worked out new modes of 
life and new means for mutual support and the 
maintenance of peace, as new conditions arose. 

On the other hand, modern science has 
proved conclusively that Law — whether pro- 
claimed as the voice of a divine being or pro- 
ceeding from the wisdom of a lawgiver — never j 
did anything else than prescribe already ex- 

isting, useful habits and customs, and thereby- 
hardened them into unchangeable, crystallized 
forms. And in doing this it always added to 
the " useful customs," generally recognized as 
such, a few new rules — in the interest of the 
rich, warlike and armed minority. " Thou 
shalt not kill," said the Mosaic law, " Thou 
shalt not steal," "Thou shalt not bear false 
witness," and then it added to these excellent 
injunctions : "Thou shalt not covet thy neigh- 
bor's wife, his slave, nor his ass," which injunc- 
tion legalized slavery for all time and put woman 
on the same level as a slave and a beast of 

" Love your neighbor," said Christianity 
later on, but straightway added, in the words 
of Paul the Apostle : " Slaves, be subject to 
your masters," and "There is no authority but 
from God," — thereby emphasizing the division of 
society into slaves and masters and sanctifying 
the authority of the scoundrels who reigned at 
Rome. The Gospels, though teaching the sub- 
lime idea of "no punishment for offences," 
which is, of course, the essence of Christianity — 
the token which differentiates it and Budd- 
hism from all other positive religions — speak at 
the same time all the while about an avenging 
God who takes his revenge even upon child- 
ren, thus necessarily impressing upon mankind 
the opposite idea of vengeance. 

We see the same thing in the laws of the so- 
called "Barbarians," that is, of the Gauls, the 
Lombards, the Allemains, and the Saxons, when 
these people lived in their communities, free from 
the Roman yoke. The Barbarian codes converted 
into law an undoubtedly excellent custom which 
was then in process of formation : the custom 
of paying a penalty for wounds and killing, in- 
stead of practicing the law of retaliation (an eye 
for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, wound for wound, 
and death for death). But at the same time 
they also legalized and perpetuated the division 
of freemen into classes — a division which only 
then began to appear. They exacted from the 
offender varying compensations, according as the 
person killed or wounded was a freeman, a 
military man, or a king (the penalty in the last 
case being equivalent to life-long servitude). 
The original idea of this scale of compensations 
to be paid to the wronged family according to 
its social position, was evidently that a king's 
family, which loses more than the family of an 
ordinary freeman by being deprived of its head, 
was entitled to receive a greater compensation. 
But the law, by restating the custom, legalized 
for all time the division of people into classes — - 
and so legalized it that up to the present, a 
thousand years since, we have not got rid of it. 

And this happened with the legislation of 
every age, down to our own time. The oppres- 

sion of the preceding epoch was thus transmitted 
by law from the old society to the new, which 
grew up upon the ruins of the old. The op- 
pression of the Persian empire passed on to 
Greece ; the oppression of the Macedonian em- 
pire, to Rome ; the oppression and cruelty of 
the Roman empire, to the mediaeval European 
States then just arising. 

Every social safeguard, all forms of social 
life in the tribe, the commune, and the early 
mediaeval town-republics ; all forms of inter- 
tribal, and later on inter-provincial, relations, 
out of which international law was subsequently 
evolved ; all forms of mutual support and all 
institutions for the preservation of peace — in- 
cluding the j ury, — were developed by the creative 
genius of the anonymous masses. While all the 
laws of every age, down to our own, always 
consisted of the same two elements : one which 
fixed and crystallized certain forms of life that 
were universally recognized as useful ; the other 
which was a superstructure — sometimes even 
nothing but a cunning clause adroitly smuggled 
in in order to establish and strengthen the 
growing authority of the nobles, the king, and 
the priest — to give it sanction. 

So, at any rate, we are led to conclude by the 

scientific study of the development of human 

society, upon which for the last thirty years not 

a few conscientious men of science have labored. 


They themselves, it is true, seldom venture to 
express such heretical conclusions as those 
stated above. But the thoughtful reader inevita- 
bly comes to them on reading their works. 


What position, then, does Anarchism occupy 
in the great intellectual movement of the nine- 
teenth century? 

The answer to this question has already been 
partly formulated in the preceding pages. An- 
archism is a world-concept based upon a 
mechanical explanation of all phenomena,* em- 
bracing the whole of Nature — that is, including 
in it the life of human societies and their econ- 
omic, political, and moral problems. Its method 
of investigation is that of the exact natural 
sciences, by which every scientific conclusion 
must be verified. Its aim is to construct a 
synthetic philosophy comprehending in one gen- 
eralization all the phenomena of Nature — and 
therefore also the life of societies, — avoiding, 
however, the errors mentioned above into which, 
for the reasons there given, Comte and Spencer 
had fallen. 

It is therefore natural that to most of the 
questions of modern life Anarchism should give 

* It were more correct to say, a kinetic explanation, 
but this word is not so commonly known. 

new answers,and hold with regard to them a po- 
sition differing from those of all political and, to 
a certain extent, of all socialistic parties, which 
have not yet freed themselves from the meta- 
physical fictions of. old. 

Of course, the elaboration of a complete me- 
chanical world-conception has hardly been be- 
gun in its sociological part — in that part, that is, 
which deals with the life and the evolution of 
societies. But the little that has been done un- 
doubtedly bears a marked — though often not 
fully conscious — character. In the domain of 
philosophy of law, in the theory of morality, in 
political economy, in history (both of nations 
and institutions), Anarchism has already shown 
that it will not content itself with metaphysical 
conclusions, but will seek in every case a natural- 
scientific basis. It rejects the metaphysics of 
Hegel, of Schelling, and of Kant ; it disowns the 
commentators of Roman and Canon Law, to- 
gether with the learned apologists of the State ; 
it does not consider metaphysical political econ- 
omy a science ; and it endeavors to gain a clear 
comprehension of every question raised in these 
branches of knowledge, basing its investigations 
upon the numerous researches that have been 
made during the last thirty or forty years from 
a naturalist point of view. 

In the same way as the metaphysical concep- 
tions of a Universal Spirit, or of a Creative Force 

in Nature, the Incarnation of the Idea, Nature's 
Goal, the Aim of Existence, the Unknowable, 
Mankind (conceived as having a separate spirit- 
ualized existence), and so on — in the same way 
as all these have been brushed aside by the 
materialist philosophy of to-day, while the em- 
bryos of generalizations concealed beneath 
these misty terms are being translated into the 
concrete language of natural sciences, — so we 
proceed in dealing with the facts of social life. 
Here also we try to sweep away the metaphys- 
ical cobwebs, and to see what embryos of gen- 
eralizations — if any — may have been concealed 
beneath all sorts of misty words. 

When the metaphysicians try to convince the 
naturalist that the mental and moral life of man 
develops in accordance with certain " Immanent 
(in-dwelling) Laws of the Spirit," the latter shrugs 
his shoulders and continues his physiological 
study of the mental and moral phenomena of 
life, with a view to showing that they can all be 
resolved into chemical and physical phenomena. 
He endeavors to discover the natural laws on 
which they are based. Similarly, when the Anar- 
chists are told, for instance, that — asHegelsays — 
every development consists of a Thesis, an An- 
tithesis, and a Synthesis ; or that " the object of 
Law is the establishment of Justice, which rep- 
resents the realization of the Highest Idea;" 

or, again, when they are asked, — What, in their 
opinion, is "the Object of Life?" they, too, 
simply shrug their shoulders and wonder how, 
at the present state of development of natural 
science, old fashioned people can still be found 
who continue to believe in " words " like these 
and still express themselves in the language of 
primitive anthropomorphism (the conception of 
nature as of a thing governed by a being en- 
dowed with human attributes). High-flown 
words do not scare the Anarchists, because they 
know that these words simply conceal either ig- 
norance — that is, uncompleted investigation — or, 
what is much worse, mere superstition. They 
therefore pass on and continue their study of 
past and present social ideas and institutions 
according to the scientific method of induction. 
And in doing so they find, of course, that the 
development of social life is incomparably more 
complicated — and incomparably more interest- 
ing for practical purposes — than it would appear 
from such formulae. 

We have heard much of late about " the dia- 
lectic method," which was recommended for 
formulating the socialist ideal. Such a method 
we do not recognize, neither would the modern 
natural sciences have anything to do with it. "The 
dialectic method " reminds the modern naturalist 
of something long since passed — of something 
outlived and now happily forgotten by science. 

The discoveries of the nineteenth century in me- 
chanics, physics, chemistry, biology, physical 
psychology, anthropology, psychology of na- 
tions, etc., were made — not by the dialectic method, 
but by the natural-scientific method, the method of 
induction and deduction. And since man is part 
of nature, and since the life of his "spirit" — 
personal as well as social — is just as much a 
phenomenon of nature as is the growth of a 
flower or the evolution of social life amongst the 
ants and the bees, — there is no cause for sud- 
denly changing our method of investigation 
when we pass from the flower to man, or from 
a settlement of beavers to a human town. 

The inductive-deductive method has proved 
its merits so well, in that the nineenth century, 
which has applied it, has caused science to ad- 
vance more in a hundred years than it had 
advanced during the two thousand years that 
went before. And when, in the second half of the 
century, this method began to be applied to the 
investigation of human society, no point was ever 
reached where it was found necessary to aban- 
don it and again adopt mediaeval scholasticism — 
as revised by Hegel. Besides, when, for ex- 
ample, philistine naturalists, seemingly basing 
their arguments on " Darwinism," began to 
teach, "Crush everyone weaker than yourself; 
such is the law of nature," it was easy for us to 
prove by the same scientific method that no 

such law exists : that the life of animals teaches 
us something entirely different, and that the 
conclusions of the philistines were absolutely un- 
scientific. They were just as unscientfic as, for 
instance, the assertion that the inequality of 
wealth is a law of nature, or that capitalism 
is the most convenient form of social life cal- 
culated to promote progress. Precisely this 
natural-scientific method, applied to economic 
facts, enables us to prove that the so-called 
" laws " of middle-class sociology, including 
also their political economy, are not laws at all, 
but simply guesses, or mere assertions which 
have never been verified at all. Moreover, 
every investigation bears fruit only when it has 
a definite aim — when it is undertaken for the 
purpose of obtaining an answer to a definite 
and clearly worded question. And it is the more 
fruitful the more clearly the explorer sees the 
connection that exists between his problem and 
his general concept of the universe — the place 
which the former occupies in the latter. The 
better he understands the importance of the 
problem in the general concept, the easier will 
the answer be. The question, then, which 
Anarchism puts to itself may be stated thus : 
"What forms of social life assure to a given 
society, and then to mankind generally, the 
greatest amount of happiness, and hence also 
of vitality ? " " What forms of social life allow 

this amount of happiness to grow and to de- 
velop, quantitatively as well as qualitatively, — 
that is, to be co me more comple te and more 
varied^" (from which, let us note in passing, a 
definition of progress is derived). The desire to 
promote evolution in this direction determines 
the scientific as well as the social and artistic 
activity of the Anarchist. 


Anarchism originated, as has already been 
said, from the demands of practical life. 

At the time of the great French Revolution 
of 1789— 1793, Godwin had the opportunity of 
himself seeing how the governmental authority 
created during the revolution itself acted as a 
retarding force upon the revolutionary move- 
ment. And he knew, too, what was then tak- 
ing place in England, undercover of Parliament 
(the confiscation of public lands, the kidnapping 
of poor workhouse children by factory agents 
and their deportation to weavers' mills, where 
they perished wholesale, and so on). He under- 
stood that the government of the "One and 
Undivided " Jacobinist Republic would not bring 
about the necessary revolution ; that the revolu- 
tionary government itself, from the very fact of 
its being a guardian of the State, was an obsta- 
cle to emancipation ; that to insure the success 
of the revolution, people ought to part, first of 

all, with their belief in Law, Authority, Uni- 
formity, Order, Property, and other supersti- 
tions inherited by us from our servile past. 
And with this purpose in view he wrote "Politi- 
cal Justice." 

The theorist of Anarchism who followed 
Godwin, Proudhon, had himself lived through 
the Revolution of 1848 and had seen with his 
own eyes the crimes perpetrated by the revolu- 
tionary republican government, and the inappli- 
cability of the State Socialism of Louis Blanc. 
Fresh from the impressions of what he had 
witnessed, Proudhon penned his admirable 
works, "A General Idea of the Social Revolu- 
tion " and " Confessions of a Revolutionist," in 
which he boldly advocated the abolition of the 
State and proclaimed Anarchy. 

And finally, the idea of Anarchism reappeared 
again in the International Working Men's Asso- 
ciation, after the revolution that was attempted 
in the Paris Commune of 187 1. The com- 
plete failure of the Council of the Commune 
and its incapacity to act as a revolutionary 
body — although it consisted, in due proportion, 
of representatives of every revolutionary faction 
of the time (Jacobinists, the followers of Louis 
Blanc, and members of the International Working 
Men's Association), and, on the other hand, the 
incapacity of the London General Council of the 
International and its ludicrous and even harmful 

pretenison to direct theParis insurrection by orders 
sent from England, — opened the eyes of many. 
They forced many members of the International, 
including Bakunin, to reflect upon the harmful- 
ness of all sorts of government — even such as 
had been freely elected in the Commune and in 
the International Working Men's Association. 
A few months later, the resolution passed by the 
same general Council of the Association, at a 
secret conference held in London in 187 1 in- 
stead of an annual congress, proved still more 
the inconvenience of having a government in 
the International. By this dire resolution they 
decided to turn the entire labor movement into 
another channel and to convert it from an eco- 
nomic revolutionary movement — from a direct 
struggle of the working men's organizations 
against capitalism — into an elective parliament- 
ary and political movement. This decision led 
to open revolt on the part of the Italian, Span- 
ish, Swiss, and partly also of the Belgian, Fed- 
erations against the London General Council, 
out of which movement modern Anarchism sub- 
sequently developed. 

Every time, then, the anarchist movement 
sprang up in response to the lessons of actual 
life and originated from the practical tendencies 
of events. And, under the impulse thus given 
it, Anarchism set to work out its theoretic, 
scientific basis. 


No struggle can be successful if it is an un- 
conscious one, and if it does not render itself a 
clear and concise account of its aim. No destruc- 
tion of the existing order is possible, if at the 
time of the overthrow, or of the struggle lead- 
ing to the overthrow, the idea of what is to take 
the place of what is to be destroyed is not 
always present in the mind. Even the theo- 
retical criticism of the existing conditions is im- 
possible, unless the critic has in his mind a more 
or less distinct picture of what he would have 
in place of the existing state. Consciously or 
unconsciously, the ideal of something better is 
forming in the mind of every one who criticises 
social institutions. 

This is even more the case with a man of 
action. To tell people, " First let us abolish 
autocracy or capitalism, and then we will dis- 
cuss what to put in its place," means simply 
to deceive oneself and others. And power is 
never created by deception. The very man 
who speaks thus surely has some idea of what 
will take the place of the institutions destroyed. 
Among those who work for the abolition — let 
us say, of autocracy — some inevitably think of a 
constitution like that of England or Germany, 
while others think of a republic, either placed 
under the powerful dictatorship of their own 
party or modeled after the French empire- 
republic, or, again, of a federal republic like 

that of the United States or Switzerland ; while 
others again strive to achieve a still greater 
limitation of government authority ; a still 
greater independence of the towns, the com- 
munes, the working men's associations, and all 
other groups united among themselves by free 

Every party thus has its ideal of the future, 
which serves it as a criterion in all events of po- 
litical and economic life, as well as a basis for 
determining its proper modes of action. Anarch- 
ism, too, has conceived its own ideal ; and this 
very ideal has led it to find its own immediate 
aims and its own methods of action different 
from those of all other political parties and 
also, to some extent, from those of the socialist 
parties, which have retained the old Roman and 
ecclesiastic ideals of governmental organization. 


This is not the place to enter into an exposi- 
tion of Anarchism. The present sketch has its 
own definite aim — that of indicating the relation 
of Anarchism to modern science, — while the 
fundamental views of Anarchism may be found 
stated in a number of other works. But two or 
three illustrations will help us to define the ex- 
act relation of our views to modern science and 
the modern social movement. 

When, for instance, we are told that Law (writ- 

ten large) "is the objectification of Truth;" or 
that "the principles underlying the development 
of Law are the same as those underlying the 
development of the human spirit;" or that 
" Law and Morality are identical and differ 
only formally;" we feel as little respect for 
these assertions as does Mephistopheles in 
Goethe's "Faust." We are aware that those 
who make such seemingly profound state- 
ments as these have expended much thought 
upon these questions. But they have taken 
a wrong path ; and hence we see in these high- 
flown sentences mere attempts at unconscious 
generalization, based upon inadequate foun- 
dations and confused, moreover, by words of 
hypnotic power. In olden times they tried to 
give "Law" a divine origin; later they began 
to seek a metaphysical basis for it ; now, how- 
ever, we are able to study its anthropological 
origin. And, availing ourselves of the results 
obtained by the anthropological school, we take 
up the study of social customs, beginning with 
those of the primitive savages, and trace the 
origin and the development of the laws at 
different epochs. 

In this way we come to the conclusion al- 
ready expressed on a preceding page — namely, 
that all laws have a two-fold origin, and in this 
very respect differ from those institutions estab- 
lished by custom which are generally recog- 
6 4 

nized as the moral code of a given society. 
Law confirms and crystallizes these customs, 
but, while doing so, it takes advantage of this 
fact to establish (for the most part in a disguised 
form) the germs of slavery and class distinction, 
the authority of priest and warrior, serfdom and 
various other institutions, in the interest of the 
armed and would-be ruling minority. In this 
way a yoke has imperceptibly been placed upon 
man, of which he could only rid himself by 
means of subsequent bloody revolutions. And 
this is the course of events down to the present 
moment — even in contemporary "labor legisla- 
tion" which, along with "protection of labor," 
covertly introduces the idea of compulsory State 
arbitration in case of strikes,* a compulsory 
eight-hour day for the workingman (no less 
than eight hours), military exploitation of the 
railroads during strikes, legal sanction for the 
dispossession of the peasants in Ireland, and so 
on. And this will continue to be so as long as 
one portion of society goes on framing laws for 
all society, and thereby strengthens the power 
of the State, which forms the chief support of 

It is plain, therefore, why Anarchism — which 
aspires to Justice (a term synonymous with 

* "Compulsory arbitration " — What a glaring con- 
tradiction ! 


equality) more than any lawgiver in the world — 
has from the time of Godwin rejected all written 

When, however, we are told that by rejecting 
Law we reject all morality — since we deny the 
" categoric imperative " of Kant, — we answer 
that the very wording of this objection is to us 
strange and incomprehensible.* It is as strange 
and incomprehensible to us as it would be to 
every naturalist engaged in the study of the 
phenomena of morality. In answer to this ar- 
gument, we ask : "What do you really mean? 
Can you not translate your statements into com- 
prehensible language — for instance, as Laplace 
translated the formulae of higher mathematics 
into a language accessible to all, and as all 
great men of science did and do express them- 
selves? " 

Now, what does a man who takes his stand 
on "universal law" or "the categorical im- 
perative " really mean? Does he mean that 
there is in all merithe-conce ption t hat one ought 
not to do to another what he would not have 
done to himself — that it would be better even to 
return good for evil? If so, well and good. 
Let us, then, study (as Adam Smith and Hutche- 
son have already studied) the origin of these 

* I am not quoting an imaginary example, but one 
taken from correspondence which I have recently car- 
ried on with a German doctor of law. 

moral ideas in man, and their course of develop- 
ment. Let us extend our studies also to pre- 
human times (a thing Smith and Hutcheson 
could not do). Then, we may analyze to what 
extent the idea of Justice implies that of Equal- 
ity. The question is an important one, because 
only those who regard others as their equals can 
accept the rule, " Do not to others what you 
would not have done to yourself." The land- 
lord and the slave-owner, who did not look 
upon "the serf" and the negro as their equals, 
did not recognize "the categorical imperative" 
and "the universal law" as applicable to these 
unhappy members of the human family. And 
then, if this observation of ours be correct, we 
shall see whether it is at all possible to inculcate 
morality while teaching the doctrine of ine- 

We shall finally analyze, as Mark Guyau did, 
the facts of self-sacrifice. And then we shall 
consider what has most promoted the develop- 
ment in man of moral feelings — first, of those 
which are intimately connected with the idea of 
equality, and then of the others ; and after this 
consideration we shall be able to deduce from 
our study exactly what social conditions and what 
institutions promise the best results for the future. 
Is this development promoted by religion, and 
to what extent ? Is it promoted by inequality — 
economic and political — and by a division into 

classes? Is it promoted bylaw? By punish- 
ment? By prisons? By the judge? The jailer? 
The hangman ? 

Let us study all this in detail, and then only 
may we speak again of Morality and moraliza- 
tion by means of laws, law courts, jailers, spies, 
and police. But we had better give up using 
the sonorous words which only conceal the su- 
perficiality of our semi-learning. In their time 
the use of these words was, perhaps, unavoida- 
ble — their application could never have been 
useful ; but now that we are able to approach 
the study of burning social questions in exactly 
the same manner as the gardener and the physi- 
ologist take up the study of the conditions 
most favorable for the growth of a plant — let us 
do so ! 

Likewise, when certain economists tell us that 
" in a perfectly free market the price of com- 
modities is measured by the amount of labor 
socially necessary for their production," we do 
not take this assertion on faith because it is 
made by certain authorities or because it may 
seem to us "tremendously socialistic." It may 
be so, we say. But do you not notice that by 
this very statement you maintain that value and 
the necessary labor are proportional to each 
other — just as the speed of a falling body is 
proportional to the number of seconds it has 

been falling ? Thus you maintain a quantitative 
relation between these two magnitudes ; whereas 
a quantitative relation can be proved only by- 
quantitative measurements. To confine your- 
self to the remark that the exchange-value of 
commodities "generally" increases when a 
greater expenditure of labor is required, and 
then to assert that therefore the two quantities 
are proportional to each other, is to make as 
great a mistake as the man who would assert 
that the quantity of rainfall is measured by the 
fall of the barometer below its average height. 
He who first observed that, generally speaking, 
when the barometer is falling a greater amount 
of rain falls than when it is rising ; or, that 
there is a certain relation between the speed of 
a falling stone and the height from which it fell 
— that man surely made a scientific discovery. 
But the person who would come after him and 
assert that the amount of rainfall is measured by 
the fall of the barometer below its average 
height, or that the space through which a fall- 
ing body has passed is proportional to the time 
of fall and is measured by it, — that person would 
not only talk nonsense, but would prove by his 
very words that the method of scientific research 
is absolutely strange to him ; that his work is 
unscientific, full as it may be of scientific ex- 
pressions. The_absence of data is, clearly, no 
excuse. Hundreds, if not thousands, of similar 

relationships are known to science in which we 
see the dependence of one magnitude upon 
another — for example, the recoil of a cannon 
depending upon the quantity of powder in the 
charge, or the growth of a plant depending 
upon the amount of heat or light received by 
it ; but no scientific man will presume to affirm 
the proportionality of these magnitudes without 
having investigated their relations quantitatively, 
and still less would he represent this proportion- 
ality as a scientific law. In most instances the ! 
dependence is very complex — as it is, indeed, in 
the theory of value. The necessary amount of 
labor and value are by no means proportional. 
The same remark refers to almost every eco- 
nomic doctrine that is current to-day in certain 
circles and is being presented with wonderful 
naivety as an invariable law. We not only 
find most of these so-called laws grossly errone- 
ous, but maintain also that those who believe in 
them will themselves become convinced of their 
error as soon as they come to see the necessity of 
verifying their quantitative deductions by quan- 
titative investigation. 

Moreover, the whole of political economy ap- 
pears to us in a different light from that in which 
it is seen by modern economists of both the mid- 
dle-class and the social-democratic camps. The 
scientific method (the method of natural scien- 

tific induction) being utterly unknown to them, 
they fail to give themselves any definite account 
of what constitutes "a law of nature," although 
they delight in using the term. They do not 
know — or if they know they continually forget 
— that every law of nature has a conditional char- 
acter. It is always expressed thus : " If cer- 
tain conditions in nature meet, certain things 
will happen." " If one line intersects another, 
-forming right angles on both sides of it, the 
consequences will be these or those." If two 
bodies are acted upon by such movements only 
as exist in interstellar space, and there is no 
third body within measurable distance of them, 
then their centres of gravity will approach each 
other at a certain speed (the law of gravitation)." 
And so on. In every case there is an "if" — a 

In consequence of this, all the so-called laws 
and theories of political economy are in reality 
no more than statements of the following na- 
ture : * " Granting that there are always in a 
country a considerable number of people who 
cannot subsist a month, or even a fortnight, 
without accepting the conditions of work im- 
posed upon them by the State, or offered to 
them by those whom the State recognizes as 
owners of land, factories, railways, etc., then the 
results will be so and so." 

So far middle-class political economy has 

been only an enumeration of what happens 
under the just-mentioned conditions — without 
distinctly stating the conditions themselves. 
And then, having described the facts which 
arise in our society under these conditions, they 
represent to us these facts as rigid, inevitable 
economic laws. As to socialist political economy, 
although it criticises some of these deductions, 
or explains others somewhat differently, — it 
has not yet been original enough to find a path 
of its own. It still follows in the old grooves, 
and in most cases repeats the very same mis- 

And yet, in our opinion, political economy 
must have an entirely different problem in view. 
It ought to occupy with respect to human soci- 
eties a place in science similar to that held by 
physiology in relation to plants and animals. It 
must become the physiology of society. It should! 
aim at studying the needs of society and the vari- 
ous means, both hitherto used and available under 
the present state of scientific knowledge, for their 
satisfaction. It should try to analyze how far- 
the present means are expedient and satisfactory, 
economic or wasteful ; and then, since the ulti- 
mate end of every science (as Bacon had already 
stated) is obviously its practical application to 
life, it should concern itself with the discov- 
ery of means for the satisfaction of these needs 
with the smallest possible waste of labor and with 

the greatest benefit to mankind in general. Such 
means would be, in fact, mere corollaries from 
the relative investigation mentioned above, pro- 
vided this last had been made on scientific lines. 

It will be clear, even from the hasty hints 
given already, why it is that we come to conclu- 
sions so different from those of the majority of 
economists, both of the middle class and the 
social-democratic schools ; why we do not re- 
gard as " laws " certain of the temporary rela- 
tions pointed out by them ; why we expound 
socialism entirely differently ; and why, after 
studying the tendencies and developments in the 
economic life of different nations, we come to 
such radically different conclusions as regards 
that which is desirable and possible ; why we '• 
come to Free Communism, while the majority of 
socialists arrive at State-capitalism and Collect- 

Perhaps we are wrong and they are right. 
But in order to ascertain who is right, it will not 
do either to quote this and that authority, to 
refer to Hegel's trilogy, or to argue by the 
"dialectic method." This question can be set- 
tled only by taking up the study of economic 
relations as facts of natural science.* 

* A few extracts from a letter written by a renowned 
Belgian biologist and received when these lines were in 
print, will help me to make my meaning clearer by a living 
illustration. The letter was not intended for publication, 


Pursuing the same method, Anarchism ar- 
rives also at its own conclusions concerning the 
State. It could not rest content with current 
metaphysical assertions like the following: 

and therefore I do not name its author : ; * * The further 
I read [such and such a work] — he writes — the surer I 
become that nowadays only those are capable of study- 
ing economic and social questions who have studied the 
natural sciences and have become imbued with their 
spirit. Those who have received only a so-called 
classical education are no longer able to understand the 
present intellectual movement and are equally incap- 
able of studying a mass of social questions 

The idea of the integration of labor and of division of 
labor in time only [the idea that it would be expedient 
for society to have every person cultivating the land and 
following industrial and intellectual pursuits in turn, 
thus varying his labor and becoming a variously-devel- 
oped individual] will become in time one of the corner- 
stones of economic science. A number of biological 
facts are in harmony wit^i the thought just underlined, 
which shows that we are here dealing with a law of na- 
ture [that in nature, in other words, an economy of 
forces may frequently result in this way] . If we exam- 
ine the vital functions of any living being at different 
periods of its life, and even at different times of the 
year, and sometimes at different moments of the day, 
we find the application of the division of labor in time, 
which is inseparably connected with the division of 
labor among the different organs (the law of Adam 

"Scientific people unacquainted with the natural sci- 
ences, are frequently unable to understand the true 
meaning of a law of nature ; the word law blinds them, 

" The State is the affirmation of the idea of the 
highest Justice in Society;" or "The State is 
the instigation and the instrument of progress ; " 
or, "without the State, Society is impossible." 
Anarchism has approached the study of the 
State exactly in the manner the naturalist ap- 
proaches the study of social life among bees and 
ants, or among the migratory birds which hatch 
their young on the shores of sub-arctic lakes. 
It would be useless to repeat here the conclu- 
sions to which this study has brought us with 
reference to the history of the different political 
forms (and to their desirable or probable evolu- 

and they imagine that laws, like that of Adam Smith, 
have a fatalistic power from which it is impossible to rid 
oneself. When they are shown the reverse side of this 
last — the sad results of individualism, from the point of 
view of development and personal happiness, — they an- 
swer : this is an inexorable law, and sometimes they 
give this answer so off-handedly that they thereby be- 
tray their belief in a kind of infallibility. The naturalist, 
however, knows that science can paralyze the harmful 
consequences of a law ; that frequently he who goes 
against nature wins the victory. 

' ' The force of gravity compels bodies to fall, but it 
also compels the balloon to rise. To us this seems so 
clear ; but the economists of the classical school appear 
to find it difficult to understand the full meaning of this 
X~ "The law of the division of labor in time will counter- 
! balance the law of Adam Smith, and will permit the in- / 
I tegration of labor to be reached by every individual. ' ' i 


tion in the future) ; if I were to do so, I should 
have to repeat what has been written by Anar- 
chists from the time of Godwin, and what may- 
be found, with all necessary explanations, in a 
whole series of books and pamphlets. 

I will say only that the State is a form of 
social life which has developed in our European 
civilization, under the influence of a series of 
causes,* only since the end of the sixteenth 
century. Before the sixteenth century the 
State, in its Roman form, did not exist — or, 
more exactly, it existed only in the minds of 
the historians who trace the genealogy of Rus- 
sian autocracy to Rurik and that of France to 
the Merovingian kings. 
j Furthermore, the State (State-Justice, State- 
I Church, State-Army) and Capitalism are, in 
! our opinion, inseparable concepts. In history 
these institutions developed side by side, mutu- 
ally supporting and reenforcing each other. 
They are bound together, not by a mere coinci- 
dence of contemporaneous development, but by 
the bond of cause and effect, effect and cause. 
■ Thus, the State appears to us as a society for 
the mutual insurance of the landlord, the war- 
!. rior, the judge, and the priest, constituted in order 

*An analysis of which may be found — say — in the 
pamphlet, "The State and its Historic Role " (Freedom 


tp enable every one of them to assert his respec- 
tive authority over the people and to exploit the 
poor. To contemplate the destruction of Capi- j 
talism without the abolition of the State — ' 
though the latter was created solely for the pur- 
pose of fostering Capitalism and has grown up 
alongside of it — is just as absurd, in our opin- 
ion, as it is to hope that the emancipation of 
the laborer will be accomplished through the 
action of the Christian church or of Caesarism. 
Many socialists of the thirties and forties, and 
even the fifties, hoped for this ; but for us, who 
have entered upon the twentieth century, it is 
ridiculous to cherish such hopes as this ! 


It is obvious that, since Anarchism differs so 
widely in its method of investigation and in its 
fundamental principles, alike from the academi- 
cal sociologists and from its social-democratic 
fraternity, it must of necessity differ from them 
all in its means of action. 

Understanding Law, Right, and the State as 
we do, we cannot see any guarantee of progress, 
still less of a social revolution, in the submis- 
sion of the Individual to the State. We are 
therefore no longer able to say, as do the super- 
ficial interpreters of social phenomena, that 
modern Capitalism has come into being through 
"the anarchy of exploitation," through "the 

theory of non-interference," which — we are 
told — the States have carried out by practicing 
the formula of "let them do as they like" 
{laissez f aire, laissez passer). We know that this 
is not true. While giving the capitalist any 
degree of free scope to amass his wealth at the 
expense of the helpless laborers, the govern- 
ment has nowhere and never during the whole 
nineteenth century afforded the laborers the 
opportunity " to do as they pleased." The 
terrible revolutionary, that is, Jacobinist, conven- 
tion legislated : " For strikes, for forming a 
State within the State — death!" In 1813 
people were hanged in England for going out on 
strike, and in 1831 they were deported to Aus- 
tralia for forming the Great Trades' Union (Union 
of all Trades) of Robert Owen ; in the sixties 
people were still condemned to hard labor 
for participating in strikes, and even now, 
in 1902, trade unions are prosecuted for dam- 
ages amounting to half a million dollars for 
picketing — for having dissuaded laborers from 
working in times of strike. What is one to 
say, then, of France, Belgium, Switzerland 
(remember the massacre at Airolo ! ), and es- 
pecially of Germany and Russia ? It is needless, 
also, to tell how, by means of taxes, the State 
brings laborers to the verge of poverty which 
puts them body and soul in the power of the 
factory boss ; how the communal lands have 

been robbed from the people, and are still 
robbed from them in England by means of the 
Enclosure Acts. Or, must we remind the reader 
how, even at the present moment, all the States, 
without exception, are creating directly (what is 
the use of talking of "the original accumu- 
lation" when it is continued at the present 
time !) all kinds of monopolies — in railroads, 
tramways, telephones, gasworks, waterworks, 
electric works, schools, etc., etc. In short, the 
system of non-interference — the laissez faire — 
has never been applied for one single hour by 
any government. And therefore, if it is per- 
missible for middle-class economists to affirm 
that the system of "non-interference" is prac- 
ticed (since they endeavor to prove that pov- 
erty is a law of nature), it is simply shameful 
that socialists should speak thus to the work- 
ers. Freedom to oppose exploitation has so far 
never and nowhere existed. Everywhere it had to 
be taken by force, step by step, at the cost of 
countless sacrifices. " Non-interference," and 
more than non-interference — direct support; 
help and protection — existed only in the interests 
of the exploiters. Nor could it be otherwise. 
The mission of the Church has been to hold the 
people in intellectual slavery; the mission of, 
the State was to hold them, half starved, in eco- ] 
nomic slavery. 

Knowing this, we cannot see a guarantee of 

progress in a still greater submission of all to 
the State. We seek progress in the fullest 
emancipation of the Individual from the author- 
ity of the State ; in the greatest development of 
individual initiative and in the limitation of all the 
governmental functions, but surely not in the 
extension thereof. The march forward in political 
/^ institutions appears to us to consist in abolishing, 
in the first place, the State authority which has 
fixed itself upon society (especially since the 
sixteenth century), and which now tries to ex- 
tend its functions more and more ; and, in the 
t second place, in allowing the^ broadest possible 
development for the principle of free agreement, 
and in acknowledging the independence of all 
possible associations formed for definite ends, 
embracing in their federations the^ whole -of 
society. The life of society itself we under- 
stand, not as something complete and rigid, 
but as something never perfect — something ever 
\ striving for new forms, and ever changing these 
\ forms in accordance with the needs of the time. 
> This is what life is in Nature. 

Such a conception of human progress and of 
what we think desirable in the future (what, in 
our opinion, can increase the sum of happiness) 
leads us inevitably to our own special tactics in 
the struggle. It induces us to strive for the 
greatest possible development of personal initia- 
tive in every individual and group, and to .secure 

unity ..of action, not. through discipline, but 
through the unity of aims, and the mutual confi- 
dence which never fail to develop when a great 
number of persons have consciously embraced 
some common idea. This tendency manifests 
itself in all the tactics and in all the internal 
life of every Anarchist group, and so far we 
have never had the opportunity of seeing these 
tactics fail. 

Then, we assert and endeavor to prove that 
it devolves upon every new economic form of 
social life to develop its own new form of politi- 
cal relations. It has been so in the past, and 
so it undoubtedly will be in the future. New 
forms are already germinating all round. 

Feudal right and autocracy, or, at least, the 
almost unlimited power of a tsar or a king, 
have moved hand in hand in history. They 
depended on each other in this development. 
Exactly in the same way the rule of the capital- 
ists has evolved its own characteristic political 
order — representative government — both in 
strictly centralized monarchies and in republics. 

Socialism, whatever may be the form in which 
it will appear, and in whatever degree it may 
approach to its unavoidable goal — Communism, 
— will also have to choose its own form of politi- 
cal structure. Of the old form it cannot make 
use, no more than it could avail itself of the hier- 

archy of the Church or of autocracy. The State 
bureaucracy and centralization are as irrecoh-" - 
cilable with Socialism as was autocracy with 
capitalist rule. One way or another, Socialism 
must become more popular, more communalistic, 
i and less dependent upon indirect government 
(through elected representatives. It must be- 
jcome more self-governing. Besides, when we 
(closely observe the modern life of France, Spain 
England, and the United States, we notice in 
:hese countries the evident tendency to form 
nto groups of entirely independent communes, 
:o\vns and villages, which would combine by 
means of free federation, in order to satisfy 
innumerable needs and attain certain imme- 
; diate ends. Of course, neither the Russian 
Minister Witte nor the German William II, nor 
even the Jacobinists who to-day rule Switzer- 
land, are making for this goal. All these work 
upon the old model for capitalist and govern- 
mental centralization in the hands of the State ; 
but the above-mentioned dismemberment of the 
State^.both__territorial and functional, is un- 
doubtedly aimed at by the~ progressive part 
of West European society and of the Amer- 
ican people. In actual life this tendency mani- 
fests itself in thousands of attempts at organiza- 
tion outside the State, fully independent of it ; as 
well as in attempts to take hold of various func- 
tions which had been previously usurped by the 

State and which, of course, it has never properly 
performed. And then, as a great social phe- 
nomenon of universal import, this tendency- 
found expression in the Paris Commune of 
1 87 1 and in a whole series of similar upris- 
ings in France and Spain ; while in the do- 
main of thought — of ideas spreading through 
society — this view has already acquired the 
force of an extremely important factor of 
future history. The future revolutions in 
France and in Spain will be communalist — not 

On the strength of all this, we are convinced 
that to work in favor of a centralized State-capi- 
talism and to see in it a desideratum, means to 
work against the tendency of progress already 
manifest. We see in such work as this a gross 
misunderstanding of the historic mission of 
Socialism itself — a great historical mistake, and 
we make war upon it. To assure the laborers 
that they will be able to establish Socialism, or 
even to take the first steps on the road to Social- 
ism, by retaining the entire government ma- 
chinery, and changing only the persons who 
manage it ; not to promote, but even to retard 
the day on which the working people's minds 
shall be bent upon discovering their own, new 
forms of political life, — this is in our eyes a 
colossal historical blunder which borders upon 


Finally, since we represent a revolutionary- 
party, we try to study the history of the origin 
and development of past revolutions. We en- 
deavor, first of all, to free the histories of revo- 
lutions written up till now from the partisan, 
and for the most part false, governmental color- 
ing that has been given them. In the histories 
hitherto written we do not yet see the people ; 
nor do we see how revolutions began. The 
stereotyped phrases about the desperate condi- 
tion of people previous to revolutions, fail to 
explain whence, amid this desperation, came 
the hope of something better — whence came 
the revolutionary spirit. And therefore, after 
reading these histories, we put them aside, and, 
going back to first sources, try to learn from 
them what caused the people to rise and what 
was its part in revolutions. 

Thus, we understand the Great French Revo- 
lution not at all as it is pictured by Louis Blanc, 
who presents it chiefly as a great political move- 
ment directed by the Jacobin Club. We see in 
it, first of all, a chaotic popular movement, chiefly 
of the peasant folk (" Every" village" HacTTts 
Robespierre," as the Abbe Gregoire, who knew 
the people's revolt, remarked to the historian 
Schlosser). This movement aimed chiefly at 
the destruction of every vestige of feudal rights 
and of the redemptions that had been imposed 
for the abolition of some of them, as well as at 
8 4 

the recovery of the lands which had been seized 
from the village communes by vultures of vari- 
ous kinds. And in so far the peasant movement 
was successful. Then, upon this foundation of 
revolutionary tumult, of increased pulsation of 
life, and of disorganization of all the powers 
of the State, we find, on the one hand, devel- 
oping amongst the town laborers a tendency 
towards a vaguely understood socialist equality ; 
and, on the other hand, the middle classes 
working hard, and successfully, in order to 
establish their own authority upon the ruins of 
that of royalty and nobility. To this end the 
middle classes fought stubbornly and desper- 
ately that they might create a powerful, all- 
inclusive, centralized government, which would 
preserve and assure to them their right of prop- 
erty (gained partly by plunder before and dur- 
ing the Revolution) and afford them the full 
opportunity of exploiting the poor without any 
legal restrictions. This power, this right to ex- 
ploit, the middle classes really obtained ; and 
in the State centralization which was created by 
the revolutionary Jacobinists, Napoleon found 
an excellent soil for establishing his empire. 
From this centralized authority, which kills all 
localjife, France is suffering even to this very 
day, and the first attempt to throw off its yoke — 
an attempt which opened a new era in history — 
was made by the proletariat of Paris only in 1871. 

Without entering here upon an analysis of 
other revolutionary movements, it is sufficient to 
say that we understand the coming social revo- 
lution, not at all as a Jacobinist dictatorship — 
not at all as a reform of the social institutions 
by means, of laws issued by a Convention or a 
Senate or a Dictator. Such revolutions have 
never occurred, and a movement which should 
take this form would be doomed to inevi- 
table death. We understand the revolution 
as a widespread popular movement, during 
which, in every town and village within the 
region of the revolt, the masses will have to 
take upon themselves the task of rebuilding so- 
ciety — will have to take up themselves the work 
of construction upon communistic bases, without 
awaiting any orders and directions from above ; 
that is, first of all, they will have to organize, one 
way or another, the means of supplying food to 
everyone and of providing dwellings for all, and 
then produce whatever will be found necessary 
for feeding, clothing, and sheltering everybody. 

As to the representative government, whether 
self-appointed or elected — be it "the dictator- 
ship of the proletariat," as they_said in the for- 
ties ;n_ Erahce and are still saying in Germany, 
or an elected " temporary government," or, 
again, a Jacobinist " convention," — we place in 
it no hopes whatever. Not because we person- 
ally do not like it, but because nowhere and 

neverjn_his tory d o we find-that, people, carried 
into government by a revolutionary 'wave, 
Eave~proyed_equal to the_qccasionj always and 
every where they have fallen below the revolu- 
tionary requirements of the moment; always 
and everywhere they became an obstacle to the 
revolution. We place no hope in this repre- 
sentation because, in the work of rebuiding so- 
ciety upon new communist principles, separate 
individuals, however wise and devoted to the 
cause, are and must be powerless. They can 
only find a legal expression for such a destruc- 
tion as is already being accomplished — at most 
they can but widen and extend that destruction 
so as to suggest it to regions which have not 
yet begun it. But that is all. The destruction 
must be wrought from below in every portion 
of the territory ; otherwise it will not be done. 
To impose it by law is impossible, as, indeed, 
the revolt of the Vendee has proved. As for 
any new bases of~life which are only growing 
as yet, — no government can ever find an expres- 
sion for them before they become defined by the 
constructive activity of the masses themselves, 
at thousands of points at once. 

Looking upon the problems of the revolu- 
tion in this light, Anarchism, obviously, can- 
not take a sympathetic attitude toward the 
programme which aims at "the conquest of 
power in present society" — la .conquete des 

pouvoirs, as it is expressed in France. We 
know that by peaceful, parliamentary means, in 
the present State such a conquest as this is im- 
possible. In proportion as the socialists ...he- 
come a power in the present bourgeois society 
and State, their Socialism must die out ; other- 
wise the middle classes, which are much more 
powerful both intellectually and numerically 
than is admitted in the socialist press, will not 
recognize them asjtheir rulers. And we know 
also that, were a revolution to give France or 
England or Germany a socialist government, 
the respective government would be absolutely 
powerless without the activity of the people 
themselves, and that, necessarily, it would soon 
begin to act fatally as a bridle upon the revolu- 

Finally, our studies of the preparatory stages 
of all revolutions bring us to the conclusion 
that not a single revolution has originated in 
parliaments Or in any other representative as- 
sembly. All began with the people. And no 
revolution has appeared in full armor — born, 
like Minerva out of the head of Jupiter, in a 
day. They all had their periods of incubation, 
during which the masses were very slowly be- 
coming imbued with the revolutionary spirit, 
grew bolder, commenced to hope, and step by step 
emerged from their former indifference and resig- 

nation. And the awakening of the revolution- 
ary spirit, always took place in such a manner 
that, at first, single individuals, deeply moved 
by the existing state of things, protested against 
'it, one by one. Many perished — "uselessly," 
the arm-chair critic would say ; but the indiffer- 
ence of society was shaken by these progeni- 
tors. The dullest and most narrow-minded 
people were compelled to reflect, — Why should 
men, young, sincere, and full of strength, sacri- 
fice their lives in this way ? It was impossible 
to remain indifferent — it was necessary to take 
a stand, for or against : thought was awakening. 
Then, little by little, small groups came to be 
imbued with the same spirit of revolt ; they also 
rebelled — sometimes in the hope of local suc- 
cess — in strikes or in small revolts against 
some official whom they disliked, or in order to 
get food for their hungry children, but frequently 
also without any hope of success : simply be- 
cause the conditions grew unbearable. Not 
one, or two, or tens, but hundreds of similar 
revolts have preceded and must precede every 
revolution. Without these no revolution was 
ever wrought ; not a single concession was ever 
made by the ruling classes. Even the famous 
"peaceful" abolition of serfdom in Russia, of 
which Tolstoy often speaks as of a peaceful 
conquest, was forced upon the government by a 
series of peasant uprisings, beginning with the 

early fifties (perpaps as an echo of the Euro- 
pean revolution of 1848), spreading from year 
to year, and gaining in importance so as to at- 
tain proportions hitherto unknown, until 1857. 
Alexander Herzen's words, " Bettejjta-ahalish 
serfdom from above than to wait until the abo- 
lition comes from below," — repeated by Alex- 
der II before the serf-owners of Moscow — were 
not mere phrases, but answered to the real state 
of affairs. This was all the more true as to the 
eve of every revolution. Hundreds of partial 
revolts preceded every one of them. And it 
may be stated as a general rule that the char- 
acter of every revolution is determined by the 
character and the aim of the uprisings by which, 
it is preceded. 

To wait, therefore, for a social revolution to 
come as a birthday present, without a whole 
series of protests on the part of the individual 
conscience, and without hundreds of prelimi- 
nary revolts, by which the very nature of the 
revolution is determined, is, to say the least, 
absurd. But to assure the working people that 
they will gain all the benefits of a socialist 
revolution by confining themselves to electoral 
agitation, and to attack vehemently every act 
of individual revolt and all minor preliminary 
mass-revolts — even when they appear among 
nations historically far more revolutionary than 
the Germans — means to become as great an ob- 

stacle to the development of the revolutionary 
spirit and to all progress as was and is the 
Christian Church. 

Without entering into further discussion of 
the principles of Anarchism and the Anarchist 
programme of action, enough has been said, I 
think, to show the place of Anarchism among 
the modern sociological sciences. 

Anarchism is an attempt to apply to the study 
of the human institutions the generalizations 
gained by means of the natural-scientific induct- 
ive method ; and an attempt to foresee the 
future steps of mankind on the road to liberty, 
equality, and fraternity, with a view to realizing 
the greatest sum of happiness for every unit of 
human society. 

It is the inevitable result of that natural-sci- 
entific, intellectual movement which began at 
the close of the eighteenth century, was ham- 
pered for half a century by the reaction that set 
in throughout Europe after the French Revolu- 
tion, and has been appearing again in full vigor 
ever since the end of the fifties. Its roots lie in 
the natural-scientific philosophy of the century 
mentioned. Its complete scientific basis, however, 
it could receive only after that awakening of 
naturalism which, about forty years ago, brought 
into being the natural-scientific study of human 
social institutions. 

9 1 

In Anarchism there is no room for those 
pseudo-scientific laws with which the German 
metaphysicians of the twenties and thirties had to 
content themselves. Anarchism does not recog- 
nize any method other than the natural-scientific. 
This method it applies to all the so-called human- 
itarian sciences, and, availing itself of this method 
as well as of all researches which have recently 
been called forth by it, Anarchism endeavors to 
reconstruct all the sciences dealing with man, 
and to revise every current idea of right, justice, 
etc., on the bases which have served for the re- 
vision of all natural sciences. Its object is to 
form a scientific concept of the universe em- 
bracing the whole of Nature and including Man. 

This world-concept determines the position 
Anarchism has taken in practical life. In 
the struggle between the Individual and the 
State, Anarchism, like its predecessors of the 
eighteenth century, takes the side of the Individ- 
ual as against the State, of Society as against the 
Authority which oppresses it. And, availing it- 
self of the historical data collected by modern 
science, it has shown that the State — whose 
sphere of authority there is now a tendency 
among its admirers to increase, and a tendency 
to limit in actual life — is, in reality, a superstruc- 
ture, — as harmful as it is unnecessary, and, for us 
Europeans, of a comparatively recent origin ; a 
superstructure in the interests of Capitalism — 

agrarian, industrial, and financial — which in an- 
cient history caused the decay (relatively speak- 
ing) of politically-free Rome and Greece, and 
which caused the death of all other des- 
potic centers of civilization of the East and of 
Egypt. The power which was created for the 
purpose of welding together the interests of the 
landlord, the judge, the warrior, and the priest, 
and has been opposed throughout history to 
every attempt of mankind to create for them- 
selves a more assured and freer mode of life, — 
this power cannot become an instrument for 
emancipation, any more than Caesarism (Impe- 
rialism) or the Church can become the instru- 
ment for a social revolution. 

In the economic field, Anarchism has come 
to the conclusion that the root of modern evil lies, 
not in the fact that the capitalist appropriates 
the profits or the surplus-vaTue, but in the very 
possibility of these profits, which accrue only 
because millions, of people have literally nothing 
to subsist upon without selling their labor-power 
' at a price which makes profits and the creation 
of "surplus values" possible. Anarchism un- 
derstands, therefore, that in political economy 
attention must be directed first of all to so-called 
"consumption," and thatthe first concern of the 
revolution must be to reorganize that so as to 
provide food, clothing and shelter for all. 
" Production," on the other hand, must be so 


adapted as to satisfy this primary, fundamental 
need of society. Therefore, Anarchism cannot 
see in the next coming revolution a mere ex- 
change of monetary symbols for labor-checks, 
or an exchange of present Capitalism for State- 
capitalism. It sees in it the first step on the road 
to No-government Communism. 

Whether or not Anarchism is right in its con- 
clusions, will be shown by a scientific criticism 
of its bases and by the practical life of the future. 
But in one thing it is absolutely right : in that it 
has included the study of social institutions in 
the sphere of natural-scientific investigations ; 
has forever parted company with metaphysics ; 
and makes use of the method by which modern 
natural science and modern material philosophy 
were developed. Owing to this, the very mis- 
takes which Anarchism may have made in its 
researches can be detected the more readily. 
But its conclusions can be verified only by 
the same natural-scientific, inductive-deductive 
method by which every science and every scien- 
tific concept of the universe is created. 



if i&seic 



• i'Am